US, Europe Cracks Down on Dark Web Drug Market, Confiscates Over $53 Million

US, Europe Cracks Down on Dark Web Drug Market, Confiscates Over $53 Million

In a massive international crackdown on drug trafficking, US and European authorities arrested nearly 300 individuals, seized more than $53 million, and shut down a dark web marketplace named “Monopoly Market,” according to a report by AP.

The dark web is a part of the internet hosted within an encrypted network, accessible only through specialized anonymity-providing tools, and is infamous for selling drugs and other illicit goods.

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US Overdose Crisis

The operation aimed at Monopoly Market is the most recent significant takedown of such platforms

Most of the arrests were made in the United States, which is facing an overdose crisis due to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. These drugs have killed more Americans than the total number of deaths during the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars combined, according to AP.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland delivered a message to the criminals on the dark web, stating that the Justice Department would find them and hold them accountable for their crimes.

Garland added that the number of arrests and money seized in this operation was the highest for any international drug trafficking operation led by the Justice Department.

One of the defendants, based in California, headed an organization that acquired bulk quantities of fentanyl, mixed it with methamphetamine, and sold millions of pills to people via the dark web.

The investigators also followed leads from local police who were investigating overdose deaths, such as a 19-year-old man from Colorado who died of an overdose after purchasing drugs from the dark web.

The operation was also a significant milestone for the FBI, as agents from all field offices visited buyers to educate them about the potential risks associated with purchasing pills online, which are frequently disguised as prescription drugs.

Read Also: Crypto Worth $34 MILLION Seized by the US from a Dark Web Seller | Largest Crypto Forfeiture?

European Operation

Europol, the European Union law enforcement agency that coordinated the international operation, reported that the majority of arrests were made in the US, with 153, followed by 55 in the UK and 52 in Germany. 

Catherine De Bolle, Europol’s executive director, lauded the coalition of law enforcement authorities across three continents, saying that the operation sent a strong message to dark web criminals.

In various countries, law enforcement officials carried out raids and confiscated 50.8 million euros ($53.4 million) in cash and cryptocurrencies, 850 kilograms of drugs, and 117 firearms. The operation, which spanned nine countries over 18 months, consisted of distinct yet complementary actions.

The Dutch national police’s Cyber-Enabled Crime Team, known as SpecTor, participated in the operation and detained ten suspects in the Netherlands. 

The leader of the Dutch team, Nan van de Coevering, praised Europol for sharing crucial intelligence, including transaction data and virtual currency addresses, that helped to launch new investigations and enhance existing ones. 

Van de Coevering emphasized that the operation’s triumph highlighted the importance of international cooperation in the fight against dark web crime. 

This crackdown on the dark web drug market is a significant step towards curbing the drug overdose crisis and sends a message to criminals that law enforcement authorities are vigilant in holding them accountable for their illegal activities, even on the dark web. 

Related Article: Canada Shut Downs Dark Web Marketplace | 4 People to be Fined $300,000 For Anti-Spam Law Violation


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