Destroy your devices if you have bought on these darknet forums. Police make hundreds of arrests around the world

Multiple law enforcement agencies around the world have arrested nearly 200 individuals in a multinational operation related to the purchase and sale of illegal products and services in hacking forums hosted on the dark web. In total, investigative agencies in nine countries made 179 arrests, ensuring that dark web’s “golden age” has come to an end.

This ambitious investigation was led by the German Federal Police, in conjunction with the Dutch Police, the UK National Criminal Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Europol. Operation Disruptor originated a year ago when Europol announced the closure of Wall Street Market, which was then considered one of the leading sales forums on the dark web.

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Europol’s headquarters at Netherlands

During the investigation, agents were able to identify multiple Wall Street Market users, allowing them to track other less popular dark web forums such as AlphaBay, Dark Market, Empire, White House, among others. Most of the arrests occurred in the United States (121), followed by Germany (42), as well as other arrests in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Austria and Sweden.  

According to reports issued by the authorities, those arrested are involved in the sale of illegal products and services such as drugs, weapons and even technological devices. Large quantities of products and a total of $6.5 million in cash and cryptocurrency were also seizen during the operation.

Europol’s report has been focused on the capabilities of law enforcement agencies to combat cybercrime: “The golden age of illegal trade in the dark web is over. Operations like this show the ability of law enforcement to counter the encryption and anonymity provided by these platforms.”

He recently shifted the focus to combating illegal trading on dark web. Previously agencies simply closed these illegal sites, but now they also pursue and arrest those who buy or sell illegal products and services: “Dark web ceased to be a fairy tale for cybercriminals,” Europol adds.

Edvardas Šileris, director of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, says: “Law enforcement becomes more efficient with joint work, which has allowed us to send a strong message to criminals. The commitment to eliminate anonymity on the dark web will remain in effect.”

Other law enforcement agencies in countries such as Austria, Cyprus and Canada also collaborated on the operation, which remains active, so more arrests are expected in the immediate future.