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Dark net drug hub, Monopoly Market, shut down; 288 arrested

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Law enforcement authorities of nine countries conducted a major operation codenamed SpecTor to take down the dark web drug marketplace, Monopoly Market. This is one of the largest operations of its kind with authorities arresting 288 suspects alongwith 850 kg of drugs and $53.4 million in cash and virtual currencies.

The operation was coordinated by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre. The arrests were made in Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the US. Thousands across the globe are now at risk of prosecution as law agencies have gained access to the vendor’s extensive buyer list.

Europol has been compiling intelligence based on the evidence provided by the German authorities who seized the marketplace’s infrastructure in 2021. As per Europol, the vendors arrested were also active on other illegal marketplaces, further impeding the trade of drugs and illicit goods on the dark web.

In total, the law enforcement agencies carried out 288 arrests in nine countries, including the United States (153), the United Kingdom (55), Germany (52), the Netherlands (10), Austria (9), France (5), Switzerland (2), Poland (1), and Brazil (1).

“Operation SpecTor was a coordinated international law enforcement effort, spanning three continents, to disrupt drug trafficking on the dark web and represents the most funds seized and the highest number of arrests in any coordinated international action led by the Justice Department against drug traffickers on the dark web,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

The arrests and seizures in Operation SpecTor made it more successful than the previous crackdowns — Operation DisrupTor (2020) with 179 arrests and Operation Dark Hun Tor in 2021 with 150 arrests. In April 2022, German and US authorities shut down Hydra, which was the world’s largest dark net drug marketplace with an estimated revenue of EUR 1.23 billion.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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