Law enforcement agencies seize dark-web market amid crackdown on illicit crypto transactions

According to a May 2 Europol press release, law enforcement agencies around the world recently seized and shut down an illegal dark web marketplace called Monopoly Market as part of an effort to crack down on illegal cryptocurrency trading. bottom.

Law enforcement seized $53.4 million in cash and cryptocurrency (called SpecTor) as part of the operation, and tracked down 288 vendors who were selling drugs and firearms, primarily through Monopoly Market and other similar websites. Arrested.

Of the 288 arrests, 153 were made in the US, 55 in the UK and 52 in Germany. His one man, based in California, accounts for $2 million worth of methamphetamine and fentanyl sales.

The remaining arrests were spread across Holland, Austria, France, Switzerland, Poland and Brazil.

Law enforcement agencies from eight countries were involved in Operation SpecTor.

Operation Specter

According to Europol, Operation SpecTor will begin in October 2021 and is part of the same efforts by law enforcement that led to the seizures and closures of Hydra and Genesis Market in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Hydra was the largest illegal marketplace operating on the dark web at the time, and Genesis was the largest identity theft marketplace.

Similar to the operation against Hydra, German police initially seized Monopoly Market’s server infrastructure in December 2021 before launching Operation “Honey Pot” in cooperation with Europol and other agencies around the world. bottom.

The operation targeted “high value” vendors who were supplying millions of dollars worth of illicit goods to multiple markets around the world.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Operation SpecTor was an “unprecedented” enforcement action by a consortium of U.S. and international law enforcement agencies against the dark web drug market and illicit crypto trading.

Attorney General Merrick Garland Said During the press conference:

“The Department of Justice is cracking down on criminal cryptocurrency transactions and the online criminal marketplaces that enable them.”

Merrick said the fentanyl epidemic and the Justice Department’s efforts to combat the Sinaloa Cartel have revealed that criminals are increasingly turning to the dark web to sell drugs in exchange for cryptocurrencies. rice field.

He said criminals believe they can evade the law by selling anonymously on darknet marketplaces, a trend in recent years. However, the results of recent operations by law enforcement prove that anonymity does not protect these criminals.

He added that the DoJ intends to hunt down all criminals on the dark web wherever they hide on the “end of the internet.”

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