The Australian Federal Police were involved in the operation, including crucial work that laid the foundation for the global plug, but no arrests were made in Australia.
The seized drugs included 152 kg of amphetamine, 27 kg of opioids and more than 25,000 ecstasy pills.
Following the Australian’s arrest, triggered by an AFP investigation, German authorities took control of the Dark Market site and its infrastructure and provided investigators around the world with a wealth of evidence.
AFP had “established the residence of European-based Australian citizens” who acted as administrators of the Dark Market, an AFP spokesman told 9News.com.au.
Since then, Europol’s European Cybercrime Center has been steadily gathering intelligence to identify key targets.
That work led to today’s arrest of 150 sellers and buyers in the United States, Germany, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Bulgaria.
A number of suspects are considered by Europol to be “high value targets”.
During the operation, the Italian authorities closed DeepSea and Berlusconi’s dark web sites, which together boasted over 100,000 lists of illegal products.
Four administrators were arrested and $ 5.5 million in cryptocurrencies were seized.
Europol’s Jean-Philippe Lecouffe said Operation Dark HunTOR had given dark web criminals a serious logistical and psychological blow.
“The point of operations like the one today is to make criminals operating on the dark web aware,” he said.
“The law enforcement community has the means and global partnerships to detect them and hold them accountable for their illegal activities, even in areas of the dark web.”
AFP’s involvement in Operation Dark HunTOR included “conducting search warrants and conducting investigations into the sale of illicit drugs” in Australia through the darknet, an AFP spokesman told 9News.com.au.
The spokesman confirmed that investigations conducted by AFP Cybercrime Operations resulted in AFP executing search orders in Queensland in January 2021 and September 2021 in collaboration with alleged Australian-based Dark Market administrators.
Investigations are underway.
The Dark Web is an encrypted network that uses the Internet but requires specific software to access.
It is designed to ensure the anonymity of the user.
The dark network’s easy access and encryption software have made it an attractive tool for criminals, including drug dealers, counterfeiters, scammers, pedophiles and terrorists.
Software to access the dark web can be downloaded from the normal web.
Once on the dark web, users can find sites and services through a browser similar to the normal web, or through instructions from other users.
The boom in cryptocurrency is also driving an increasing number to the dark web.