November 27, 2021

a vast international police operation targets trafficking hosted on the dark web

Some 26.7 million euros, tens of kilos of various drugs and 45 firearms seized; 150 arrests of suspected drug trafficking, weapons, false papers, stolen bank cards or pirate software: Operation DarkHunTOR, led by the police of nine countries, including France, will undoubtedly remain as one of the largest police operations in the world.

Europol and Eurojust, the European police and judicial cooperation agencies as well as the US Department of Justice delivered, Tuesday, October 26, some details about this action which targeted the dark Web, the clandestine version of the Internet supposed to guarantee anonymity to its users. A series of interventions “Separate but complementary” took place in Germany, Australia, Bulgaria, USA, Italy, Netherlands, UK and Switzerland. In France too, where two men and a woman suspected of managing a site called Le Monde Parallel had already been apprehended in June. This site brought together 1,800 members, buyers and sellers of drugs and stolen goods.

Lisa Monaco, US Under Secretary for Justice, told a press conference in Washington that 200,000 pills had been seized in the United States, 90% containing counterfeit opioids and other particularly dangerous narcotics. The sale of opioids on the web has seen a sharp increase during the pandemic, according to Mme Monaco. Laboratories installed in apartments and manufacturing pills resembling painkillers have been unearthed. Many contained methamphetamines and fentanyl, a very strong pain reliever, a few grains of which can kill.

“There is no such thing as a dark Internet, we are going to enlighten it”

The investigations lasted several months. They started in January with the arrest, on the border between Germany and Denmark, of a 34-year-old Australian. He gave the police a lot of information about the DarkMarket platform, of which he was apparently the operator. It would be the largest “cyber black market” on the planet, a virtual point of sale where narcotics, computer viruses, phone cards guaranteeing anonymity, etc. could be obtained.

Read also European authorities dismantle DarkMarket, a major black market online shopping site

The episode was linked to the revelation by the German police in September 2019 of the existence of Cyberbunker, a host of illegal dark web services. Installed in the west of the Federal Republic, in a disused NATO site, this platform hosted drug sales sites and servers for trafficking child pornography or launching computer attacks.

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