On May 2, 2023, Europol announced a collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies from the U.S., Europe, the U.K., and Brazil culminated in 288 arrests, along with the confiscation of 850 kg of illegal drugs, 117 firearms, and $53.4 million in cash and cryptocurrencies. This joint venture, named “Operation Spector,” successfully dismantled the darknet marketplace (DNM) Monopoly Market and confiscated its infrastructure back in December 2021.
Monopoly Market Taken Down via a Consortium of Global Law Enforcement Officials
The U.S. Justice Department and Europol reveal that officials from around the globe collaborated to bring down the DNM Monopoly Market, resulting in the arrest of 288 individuals throughout the investigation. The statement discloses that Monopoly was captured in December 2021 and led to over 100 federal investigations and prosecutions within the United States. In January 2022, an anonymous DNM and Tor researcher known as “Dark.fail” noted that Monopoly’s servers had been seized.
“Alert — Monopoly Market’s servers were seized by their host, very likely law enforcement action,” Dark.fail tweeted at the time. “If you conducted blockchain/cyber research on this platform be aware that your transaction history may be in unknown hands.”
Europol stated that German authorities apprehended the DNM and started gathering evidence which “served as the foundation for hundreds of national investigations.” The officials also highlighted that Monopoly vendors held prominent positions on other well-known DNMs. The apprehended suspects were classified as “high-value targets.”
Europol’s executive director, Catherine De Bolle, commented: “This operation sends a strong message to criminals on the dark web: international law enforcement has the means and the ability to identify and hold you accountable for your illegal activities, even on the dark web.” Authorities emphasized that Operation Spector achieved greater success than its two predecessors, Operation Disruptor, and Operation Dark Huntor.
In April 2022, German and U.S. law enforcement collaborated to shut down the massive Russian DNM Hydra, seizing EUR 23 million in cryptocurrencies. Despite the success of all of these operations, DNMs continue to proliferate, very much like the mythical creature Hydra, with its ability to regenerate its body parts.
Currently, DNM patrons have a plethora of options to choose from, including Tor2door Market, ASAP Market, Abacus Market, Vice City Market, Archetyp Market, Bohemia Market, Incognito Market, Gammagoblin, Psycellium, Flugsvamp 4.0, Mega Darknet Market, and Cypher Market, among others.
What do you think is the next step for global law enforcement agencies in their fight against the proliferation of darknet marketplaces? Share your thoughts about this subject in the comments section below.