Europol has dealt a significant blow to the dark web’s drug trade, arresting 288 drug vendors, shutting down Monopoly Market, and seizing over EUR 50.8 million (USD $55.69 million) in cash and cryptocurrencies, 850 kg of drugs, and 117 firearms.
Codenamed SpecTor, this operation involved the coordinated efforts of nine countries – the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, France, Switzerland, Poland, and Brazil.
Monopoly Market’s criminal infrastructure was seized in December 2021, and Europol’s compilation of intelligence packages using this evidence was the basis for hundreds of national investigations.
In total, the 288 suspects arrested were active on Monopoly Market and other illicit marketplaces. A number of the suspects were high-value targets by Europol, and investigations are still ongoing to identify additional individuals behind dark web accounts.
With access to vendors’ extensive buyer lists, thousands of customers globally are now at risk of prosecution.
As the popularity and value of cryptocurrencies grow, so too does the incentive for hackers and cybercriminals to steal them.
According to a recent study by PrivacyAffairs.com, hacked cryptocurrency accounts on exchanges such as Coinbase and Kraken are popular targets, with verified Coinbase accounts reportedly being sold for $610 and Kraken users’ accounts for as low as $810.