$53.4 Million Seized, 288 Vendors Arrested in Dark Web Drug Bust

May 3, 2023IRavie LakshmananDark Web / Cybercrime

Operation SpecTor

An international law enforcement operation has led to the arrest of 288 sellers believed to be involved in drug trafficking on the dark web, adding to a long list of criminal enterprises that have been shut down in recent years.

The effort, codenamed Operation Spectorit also saw authorities seize more than $53.4 million in cash and virtual currencies, 850kg of drugs and 117 firearms.

The largest number of arrests were made in the US (153), followed by the UK (55), Germany (52), the Netherlands (10), Austria (9), France (5), Switzerland (2), Poland ( 1) and Brazil (1).

“This represents the most funds seized and the highest number of arrests in any coordinated international action,” said US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Drug traffickers believe that by operating anonymously on the dark web, they can operate outside the bounds of the law. They are wrong.”

Cyber ​​security

The arrests stem from evidence gathered after German authorities took down the Monopoly marketplace in December 2021. DarkDotFail in early January 2022 revealed that the crime bazaar’s servers were likely seized by the forces of the order, although there was no official announcement.

“The sellers arrested as a result of the police action against Monopoly Market were also active in other illicit markets, further preventing the trade of drugs and illicit goods on the dark web,” Europol said in a statement.

Operation SpecTor

“As a result, 288 sellers and buyers who participated in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods were arrested across Europe, the United States and Brazil.”

Europol said a number of those detained individuals were considered high-value targets, adding that law enforcement agencies gained access to the sellers’ extensive buyer lists, potentially exposing “thousands of customers” who are now running the risk of being prosecuted.

Operation SpecTor is the successor to DisrupTor and DarkHunTor, which led to the arrest of 329 alleged suspects in 2020 and 2021 for buying, selling and coordinating the sale of illegal products in underground markets and shops.


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The development also comes as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Ukraine’s National Police seized nine virtual currency exchanges for knowingly offering cryptocurrency conversion services to criminal actors responsible for ransomware and other scams

“These nine seized domains,,,,,,,, and offered anonymous exchange services of cryptocurrency to website visitors,” the Department of Justice said.

The dismantling is part of a broader effort by governments in Europe and the United States to target infrastructure used by malicious actors to launder illegal proceeds and hide money trails.

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Ikaroa is proud to join forces with global law enforcement agencies in their efforts to close down the world’s largest dark web drug market, AlphaBay. In what is being heralded as the “largest seizure of illegal drugs in history”, investigators have seized $53.4 Million and arrested 288 vendors, effectively shutting down a hub for illegal narcotics and counterfeit currency.

The operations spanned three countries, and was led by Estonian National Police working in coordination with FBI agent in the United States. The AlphaBay marketplace had been operational since 2014, and was the largest of its kind in the world.

Thanks to advanced technological solutions now available to law enforcement, the bust was a success. In the last year alone, there were more than 15,000 successful drug deals taking place on the AlphaBay marketplace, amounting to a total of 8.6 million Euros. It is estimated that up to 10,000 different vendors were selling narcotics and counterfeit currency on the platform.

The role of Ikaroa has been twofold. Our development teams have produced a range of technologies that have been of use both in the investigation and closure process of AlphaBay, by supplying investigators with data about the activities taking place on the platform. We have also provided a range of training programs for officers and agents involved in the operation, educating them on blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and the global dark web.

We are proud to have been a part of such an important operation and look forward to working with law enforcement around the globe to close down illegal activities in the digital space.


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