Authorities seize dark web marketplace as they tighten down on illegal crypto deals

In the SpecTor operation, law enforcement seized $53 million in cash and cryptocurrency and caught 288 vendors offering illicit products.

A news statement issued by Europol on May 2 said that, as part of an attempt to clamp down on illicit cryptocurrency transactions, law enforcement organizations from across the globe had recently seized and shut down a dark web marketplace known as Monopoly Market.

Police detained 288 vendors who were mostly selling illicit drugs and guns on Monopoly Market and other similar websites, and confiscated $53.4 million in cash and cryptocurrency as part of the investigation dubbed SpecTor.

153 of the 288 arrests were made in the United States, 55 in the United Kingdom, and 52 in Germany; one California individual was responsible for over $2 million in sales of methamphetamines and fentanyl.

The remaining arrests occurred in Brazil, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Switzerland, and Poland. Participating in Operation SpecTor were law enforcement agencies from eight nations.

Operation SpecTor, which the Europol claims started in October 2021, is related to the actions of law enforcement that resulted in the seizure and closure of Hydra in 2022 and Genesis Market in 2023.

At the time, the biggest criminal marketplace on the dark web was called Hydra, while the greatest identity theft market was called Genesis.

A “honey pot” operation was launched in December 2021 by German police in coordination with Europol and other agencies across the globe, mirroring the operation against Hydra.

The operation’s focus was on “high value” sellers who were moving illicit products worth millions of dollars between different marketplaces throughout the world.

The United States Department of Justice called the worldwide and domestic law enforcement effort known as Operation SpecTor targeting online drug marketplaces and illegal cryptocurrency transactions an “unprecedented” enforcement pursuit.

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