Operation Dark HunTor was started with one goal: to find the buyers and vendors who were hiding on the site, and prevent them from finding a new platform. Lisa Monaco, deputy attorney general, stated this at a Tuesday press conference.
Some arrests do not appear to be traced back directly to DarkMarket. Court documents show that suspicious packages were often the first tipoff in many cases. Investigators are still likely to reap the benefits of previous seizures such as those at Hansa or Wall Street Market. Operation Dark HunTor is not the end of dark web arrests. Illicit marketplace vendors might need to be treated with caution.
At Tuesday's press conference, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, Europol deputy executive Director, stated that some of them are worried about who will be next on the list. You can see some investigations still ongoing in certain countries. This is because some people have been identified. The work will continue. Every time we search a home, we discover new leads that lead to new investigations.
While marketplaces pop up like weedsthe notorious AlphaBay was recently resurrected by DeSnake, one of its original administratorsskittish or incarcerated vendors may be harder to come by.
This cool car. FBI
Christin says that markets can be easily replaced because they only require a new website to relocate to. However, large vendors sell physical products and require access to upstream supply. This means that it may take some time for them to be replaced. A vendor cannot just launch a business selling thousands of ecstasy pills in a matter of minutes, but they can move quickly from one market to another.
It is not clear if even 150 arrests will slow down the pace. Monaco pointed out Tuesday that the dark web drug trade was already a multi-billion dollar industry before the pandemic. The demand isn't going away and suppliers will do their best to meet it.
Christin says that if they were able to arrest the most well-known vendors, it might have some impact. I'm much more skeptical in the long-term. The ecosystem has proven to be resilient to any police intervention time and again.
Here are more great WIRED stories