On May 3, Europol announced the successful conclusion of Operation SpecTor, a multi-jurisdictional effort to bring down Monopoly Market, a dark web platform that emerged after previous ones were taken down. This operation involved cooperation between authorities in the United States, Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Brazil, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The shutdown of Monopoly Market in 2021 led to the unraveling of threads in these jurisdictions. The Dutch authorities, who had also taken down Hansa, hijacked the platform and allowed its operation for several months to cast a wide dragnet. The operation resulted in the seizure of 117 firearms, 850 kg of drugs, and 50 million euros in cash and cryptocurrency across all jurisdictions.
288 individuals involved in buying and selling illegal goods were arrested, with the majority located in the United States (155). The authorities in the United Kingdom and Germany arrested 55 and 52 individuals, respectively, with several more arrested in Austria, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Poland. Many of those arrested were confirmed to be users of other dark web markets, suggesting that future law enforcement actions may be taken against similar platforms.
Europol’s Executive Director, Catherine de Bolle, emphasized the importance of international cooperation in bringing down these illicit activities. She stated that the success of this operation shows that law enforcement agencies across three continents can work together to identify and hold criminals accountable for their illegal activities, even on the dark web.
Operation SpecTor was more successful than its predecessors, DisrupTor and Dark HunTor, which resulted in 179 and 150 arrests, respectively. The increased efficiency in cooperation between jurisdictions is a positive sign for future efforts to combat illegal activities online.