$31 million seized after Europe and US detain 150 suspects in joint investigation into darknet trading of drugs and weapons

An international investigation by the authorities in Europe and the United States has seen police detain at least 150 people and seize €26.7 million ($31 million) in a raid on darknet users.

Speaking to Dutch broadcaster KRO-NCRV, the deputy executive director of operations at the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, said criminals operating on the dark web would be caught “even if they think they are hiding somewhere.”
Some 65 US citizens, 47 Germans, 24 Brits, and a small number of citizens in Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are believed to have been detained in the raids, which targeted “high-value targets.” The authorities recovered €26.7 million-worth of cash and cryptocurrency, as well as 234kg (516lb) of drugs.

The operation targeted individuals accused of operating on darknet e-commerce sites designed to provide buyers and sellers with the ability to act in an untraceable, anonymous manner, making them popular for trading illicit goods.

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The sweeping global police operation comes months after the shutdown of DarkMarket, which German prosecutors claimed was the “largest illegal marketplace on the darknet,” after arresting its operator. The site had allegedly been involved in the sale of counterfeit currency, stolen credit card information, drugs, malware and more, with more than half a million users having used it to trade cryptocurrencies valued at €140 million ($162.7 million).

It is not yet known specifically with what those arrested will be charged. Europol and the US Department of Justice are set to hold a joint press conference in Washington D.C. at 10am local time (2pm GMT).

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