Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, April 14, 2023, about important international enforcement actions to combat drug trafficking.

Susan Walsh | AP

A consortium of U.S. and international law enforcement made 288 arrests and seized more than $53 million in cash and cryptocurrency as part of an “unprecedented” drug enforcement action on the dark web called Operation SpecTor, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference Tuesday.

“The Department of Justice cracks down on criminal cryptocurrency transactions, and the online criminal marketplaces that enable them,” Garland said.

Dozens of firearms and more than 850 kilograms of drugs were also seized in the Spector operation, referring to the dark web browsing protocol. The operation was coordinated along with Europol and resulted in the takeover of a dark web market called Monopoly Market, according to press release from the European Agency.

Garland said the process began in October 2021.

Ministry of Justice He said More than 100 federal investigations and prosecutions have taken place in the US, and 153 domestic suspects have been arrested, Garland said, including a California man who allegedly sold nearly $2 million in fentanyl and methamphetamine on the dark web.

German police first took over the online market infrastructure in December 2021 and worked alongside Europol and international law enforcement agencies to go after “high-value targets” who sold drugs and illegal goods around the world.

SpecTor is a continuation of the same efforts that disrupted the Darknet Hydra Market in 2022 and the online identity theft site Genesis Market in 2023.

“Our message to criminals on the dark web is: You can try to hide in the furthest reaches of the Internet, but the Department of Justice will find you and hold you accountable for your crimes,” Garland said in a statement.

Agents from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, US Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation team were involved in the incident. Law enforcement from Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom were also involved.


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