10 Dutch arrests tied to international Dark Web drug trafficking; €51 million seized
May 2, 2023 –AMSTERDAM – An international operation into drug trafficking on a Dark Web marketplace led to the arrests of 288 people in nine different countries over the past year-and-a-half, including 10 in the Netherlands. Law enforcement officials targeted the Monopoly Market, which Europol described on Tuesday as a marketplace where vendors and buyers could connect in the illegal drugs trade.
Monopoly Market was taken offline in December 2021, Dutch police said. The marketplace “had a strict invite-only policy and only traded drugs,” Dutch authorities claimed.
During raids in the nine countries, dubbed Operation SpecTor, law enforcement officers seized over 50.8 million euros in cash and virtual currencies and 117 firearms. They also recovered 258 kilograms of amphetamines, 43 kilograms of both cocaine and MDMA, and a combined total of over 10 kilograms of LSD tabs and ecstasy pills. Nearly 500 kilograms of other, unspecified drugs were also found.
The highest number of arrests were made in the United States, where 153 people were taken into custody. Another 55 were caught in the United Kingdom, and 52 others were detained in Germany. Austrian authorities captured nine suspects, five were found in France, two in Switzerland, and one each in Poland and Brazil.
The suspects are suspected of being “vendors and buyers who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods,” Europol said. “A number of these suspects were considered high-value targets by Europol.”
The international investigation service said, “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.”
The operation was seen as being linked to the shut down of the Hydra Dark Web market, which had an estimated revenue of 1.23 billion euros. It was brought down in April 2022, with German authorities capturing 23 million euros in cryptocurrencies.