An international law enforcement operation, ‘SpecTor,’ has reportedly resulted in the arrest of 288 dark web vendors and customers worldwide. The operation was led by several law enforcement agencies. This includes Europol and the FBI. They worked together to seize a total of €50.8 million ($55.9 million) in cash and cryptocurrency.
‘Monopoly Market’- The Target
The vendors use to be highly active on a dark web marketplace known as ‘Monopoly Market.’
The marketplace enabled customers worldwide to buy drugs in exchange for Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency. Although the marketplace was found in 2019, it was later seized by law enforcement in December 2021. While there was initial speculation that the seizure was an exit scam, where the owners of the site were stealing cryptocurrency deposited on the site. It is sure for the first time by Europol that Monopoly Market got seize by German authorities. The marketplace was used to collect evidence on the vendors and customers who bought and sold drugs on the site.
The Seized Drugs and Firearms
The law enforcement agencies involve in ‘SpecTor’ operation confiscated 850 kilograms (1,874 lbs) of drugs. This includes cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, LSD, ecstasy, and 117 firearms. The operation’s primary goal was to target high-volume vendors and buyers of darknet marketplaces. These are people who sold drugs and firearms to other users in exchange for cryptocurrency.
Arrested Individuals under SpecTor
Most of the vendors and buyers who were in sales of illicit goods resides in United States with 153 arrests. This later one has 55 arrests in the United Kingdom and 52 in Germany. The Netherlands and Austria also reported 10 and 9 arrests, respectively.
Europol and FBI’s Coordination
Europol and the FBI joitnly did the recent operation. This involves police agencies from the UK, France, Poland, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Switzerland, & UK. The ‘SpecTor’ surpass prior law enforcement operations like ‘DisrupTor’ in 2020, & ‘Dark HunTor’ in 2021.
Impact on Illicit Marketplaces
According to Europol, they arrest the vendor as a result of the police action against Monopoly Market.
Roughly a year ago, German police, in coordination with U.S. authorities, shut down the world’s largest darknet market dedicated to selling drugs, named ‘Hydra’. The German police seized €23 million worth of cryptocurrency during that operation.
Reacap of ‘SpecTor’
The ‘SpecTor’ operation has led to a significant victory in the war against illicit marketplaces on the dark web. The successful coordinated efforts of international law enforcement agencies have resulted in the arrests of several dark web vendors and customers, prompting a reduction in the availability of illicit goods on the dark web. The seizure of millions of euros worth of cryptocurrency and 850 kilograms of drugs will have a substantial impact on dark web marketplaces and set an example for future operations against such criminal activities.