150 people have been arrested in an international operation against sellers and buyers of illegal goods on the dark web. The European police organization Europol confirmed this to NRC on Tuesday. Four Dutchmen are among the suspects. In addition to the detentions, police units in Europe and the United States seized more than 26.7 million euros in cash and cryptocurrencies, as well as 234 kilograms of drugs and 45 firearms.
Previous similar operations mainly targeted the owners of illegal marketplaces. Investigative services are gaining more and more knowledge about the dark web, which makes tackling vendors and consumers more successful.
The 150 suspects were involved in the illegal trade of tens of thousands of goods in Europe and the United States via DarkMarket. This illegal marketplace was taken off the air in January.
The National Police investigated two largest Dutch sales accounts on DarkMarket, a spokesperson told. This resulted in the arrest of two people behind the Dutch Magic account and two people from the Sankhara account.
“This operation proves that we can reach (criminals on the dark web) even if they think they are hiding somewhere, they cannot be sure we won’t be there at one moment to knock on their door”, Europol’s deputy executive director of operations, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe told the broadcaster.
Europol would not comment on the report, but referred to a press conference set for 10AM local time (1400 GMT) in Washington with the Department of Justice.
The operation focused on sellers and buyers on the darknet rather than the people running the sites as in earlier crackdowns.
Darknet markets are e-commerce sites designed to lie beyond the reach of regular search engines. They are popular with criminals, as buyers and sellers are largely untraceable.
In January this year, Europol announced it had taken down an online marketplace called “DarkMarket” that sold illegal drugs in an operation led by German law enforcement agencies.