Police Have Shut Down World’s Largest Dark Web Marketplace
The largest Dark Web marketplace in the world has been shut down, with arrests being made by European authorities as part of a larger law enforcement drive that began in 2019.
The site, called DarkMarket, had more than half a million users until last week. The site was said to be one of the most popular places for criminals to sell and buy drugs, malware, stolen credit card data and much more. In fact, DarkMarket managed to facilitate €140 million of illegal transactions.
Despite the success of the site, European authorities managed to destroy the infrastructure of the operation through a series of arrests. Twenty servers were found and confiscated in Ukraine and Moldova, where the operation was said to be centralised. It is unclear who was arrested in connection with these servers but it has been confirmed that a 34-year-old Australian national, who was believed to be the operator of the site, has been among those who were detained.
The authorities believe the data they have confiscated can lead to further arrests. The Guardian noted the hopes of the prosecuting teams:
Investigators expect to use the data saved there to launch new probes against the moderators, sellers and buyers of the marketplace.
The larger enforcement initiative conducted by Europol and Germany’s Central Criminal Investigation Department began in 2019. The division began with tackling a CyberBunker hosting service, and it seems that the project continues to be effective in tackling activities on the dark web.
Europol has detailed the purpose and skills that the crime-fighting organisation brings:
The team also aims to enhance joint technical and investigative actions, organise training and capacity-building initiatives, together with prevention and awareness-raising campaigns – a 360° strategy against criminality on the dark web.
A shared commitment across the law enforcement community worldwide and a coordinated approach by law enforcement agencies have once again proved their effectiveness. The scale of the operation at Europol demonstrates the global commitment to tackling the use of the dark web as a means to commit crime.
In recent years, several dark web sites that have facilitated illegal activity have been shut down globally. This includes the dismantling and subsequent arrests of 179 vendors last September. It is clearly becoming difficult to maintain these operations, and with that in mind, they may begin to become increasingly rare.
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