Authorities in the U.S. and Europe have arrested droves of people in connection to dark web drug peddling, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Tuesday.
The coordinated police operation, dubbed “Dark HunTor,” involved a large number of law enforcement agencies, including the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Europol, and various other U.S. entities, including the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Postal Service.
So far, “HunTor” has resulted in the arrest of 150 people worldwide, as well as the seizure of some $US31.6 ($42) million from both cash and digital currencies (aka Bitcoin and other cryptos). Police say that they have also seized approximately 234 kilograms of narcotics, including 200,000 opioid pills, and various large amounts of amphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA.
Of those taken into custody, 65 have been arrested in the U.S. across 14 states, officials said Tuesday. Arrests have also taken place in seven different countries in Europe.
Police say that that the investigation grew out of operations conducted earlier this year, with the takedown of DarkMarket — what was then the largest dark web marketplace in the world. The seizure of DarkMarket’s infrastructure led to intelligence that helped police track down darknet operators, officials said.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco claimed that the operation had taken nearly a year to complete and had resulted in the saving of “countless lives.”
“This 10-month massive international law enforcement operation spanned across three continents and involved dozens of U.S. and international law enforcement agencies to send one clear message to those hiding on the Darknet peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet. We can and we will shine a light,” said Monaco. “Operation Dark HunTor prevented countless lives from being lost to this dangerous trade in illicit and counterfeit drugs.”
The U.S. has increasingly sought to utilise international partnerships as a means of combatting cybercrime. In June, the Justice Department announced Operation Trojan Shield, a vast investigation into global organised crime networks that utilised international partnerships. Reuters also recently reported that the FBI, in coordination with other countries, had targeted and hacked the ransomware gang REvil, as a way of disabling the destructive cybercriminal group.