150 suspect drug buyers and sellers were arrested after a 10-month investigation into DarkMarket, the largest dark web marketplace.
DarkMarket was shut down earlier this year in an international operation. According to Europol, the site had 500,000 users and enabled around 320,000 transactions. Clientele bought and sold everything, including malware, stolen credit card information, weapons, and drugs. The German authorities also confiscated valuable evidence from transactions that led to the January arrest of the site's operator.
The US Department of Justice, Europol and Europol reported that Operation Dark HunTor saw numerous arrests in the United States (65), Germany (47) and the United Kingdom (24) as well as Italy (4) and the Netherlands (4). They also made several arrests in France (3), Switzerland (2) and Bulgaria (1). The arrests resulted in the seizure of more than $31.6 million worth of cash and cryptocurrency, 45 firearms, and approximately 234 kilograms each of opioids, cocaine, MDMA and fentanyl. According to the DoJ, a number of investigations are still ongoing.
It was also part of the operation that saw four alleged administrators arrested by Italian authorities and 3.6 million dollars in cryptocurrency confiscated.
The dark web was once considered a safe place to sell and buy drugs. However, international operations such as Dark HunTor have witnessed regular arrests and swift closures of marketplaces. There are many dark web markets that have been closed in recent years, including Dream WallStreet White House DeepSea and Dark Market. While law enforcement is required to be vigilant with these sites, it's becoming harder for sellers and buyers to establish steady businesses.
In a press release, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe (Europols Deputy Executive Director for Operations) stated that the purpose of operations like the one today was to alert criminals using the dark internet.