UK residents among suspects arrested in global dark web sting –

UK residents are among the 288 suspects involved in buying or selling drugs arrested as part of Operation SpecTor, which shut down the illegal dark web marketplace ‘Monopoly Market’.
More than £44million in cash and virtual currencies was seized, alongside 850kg of drugs including cocaine and ecstasy.
Arrests took place in the US, UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Switzerland, Poland and Brazil. High-value targets were among the suspects arrested. In the UK alone, 55 arrests were made.
The operation, led by Europol, followed on from German authorities seizing the marketplace’s criminal infrastructure in December 2021. Europol compiled intelligence packages based on information provided following the seizure, cross-matching and analysing the data and evidence collected, which served as the basis for hundreds of national investigations.
The vendors arrested as a result of Operation SpecTor were also active on other illicit marketplaces. A number of investigations to identify additional individuals behind dark web accounts are still ongoing. 
As law enforcement authorities gained access to the vendors’ extensive buyer lists, thousands of customers across the globe are now at risk of prosecution as well. 
‘This operation sends a strong message to criminals on the dark web,’ said Europol executive director Catherine De Bolle.
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‘International law enforcement has the means and the ability to identify and hold you accountable for your illegal activities, even on the dark web.’
Operation SpecTor was composed of a series of separate complementary actions across the nine countries in which arrests were made. The National Crime Agency and National Police Chiefs’ Council directed operations in the UK.
‘Our coalition of law enforcement authorities across three continents proves that we all do better when we work together,’ added De Bolle.
In the run-up to the operation, German and US authorities also shut down ‘Hydra’, the highest-grossing dark web market with an estimated revenue of £1.08billion, in April last year. 
In terms of arrests, the operation was even more successful than previous stings. Operation DisrupTor, in 2020, resulted in 179 arrests, while Operation Dark HunTor followed in 2021 with 150. 
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