Police across the globe crackdown on darknet marketplaces

The FBI contacted 150 people suspected of buying drugs from the sites

Law enforcement agencies across the globe staged a crackdown on so-called darknet web sites last week, targeting marchants and thousands of customers who were looking to obtain illegal drugs and goods.

From Oct.22 to the 28th, the agencies took action against merchants and customers that used these sites for illicit items, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement on Monday.

Unlike other websites, these underground marketplaces reside within the darknet -- a sort of parallel internet accessible to visitors via anonymizing software like Tor. While the software has legitimate uses, such as safeguarding communications in authoritarian countries, it has been adopted for more illicit means.

Last week's crackdown was global in scale. In addition to the U.S., Europol and law enforcement agencies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. participated in the operation.

In the U.S., the FBI said it made "contact" with 150 individuals suspected of buying illicit items from darknet marketplaces. "Some of these individuals confessed to ordering a range of illegal drugs and controlled substances online, including heroin, cocaine, morphine, and ketamine," the FBI said.

It's unclear how U.S. federal investigators found out about the suspects' activities. But a video posted online shows agents searching for the illegal goods by opening packages at a Los Angeles mail facility. Among the items seized were live turtles sent from Las Vegas, a counterfeit bong made in China, and fake Ray-Ban sunglasses.

In other countries such as Sweden, local police there said they had identified over 3,000 suspected buyers of drugs sold over the darknet. Police were able to identify the suspects because six of the largest Swedish merchants on the darknet had been arrested in the past year.

Police in Netherlands also said they took "some criminal justice actions" as part of last week's operation. Authorities there have even published a website, naming which vendors are still active on the darknet, and which have already been arrested.

Some of those merchants go by usernames that appear on AlphaBay Market, a major underground website known to sell drugs, stolen credit cards and counterfeit items. AlphaBay continues to operate as of Tuesday.

New Zealand police have also said they contacted over 160 people in the country suspected of buying drugs from the websites. The crackdown has so far resulted in six arrests and 66 formal warnings.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags TorDarknet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?