Operation SpecTor: Hundreds of Sellers Arrested
An internationally coordinated operation called Operation SpecTor resulted in the arrest of more than 200 suspected users of the dark web market around the world.
According to the Department of Justice, Operation SpecTor seized 117 firearms, 850 kilograms of drugs and $53.4 million in cash and cryptocurrency, and arrested 288 suspected sellers and buyers.
German authorities said in a joint press release that the operation was based on information from a December 2021 seizure of a monopoly market conducted by German authorities in cooperation with the FBI as part of a joint operation by the Frankfurt Main District Attorney’s Office and the Central Criminal Inspectorate of Oldenburg.
Investigators seized market servers in Germany and Finland. From information obtained from the servers, investigators found that the marketplace employed 403 sellers who completed more than 130,000 orders. More than 640 bitcoins and 26,000 moneros were exchanged during the drug sales.
German investigators gathered evidence against the market user and turned it over to Europol. This evidence was passed on to international law enforcement agencies, leading to coordinated investigations in Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the United States and Switzerland.
The operation resulted in the arrest of 228 people suspected of buying and selling illegal goods on the dark web. Among those arrested were 153 from the U.S., 55 from the U.K., 52 from Germany, 10 from the Netherlands,9 from Austria, 5 from France, 2 from Switzerland and one each from Poland and Brazil.
The 850 kg of drugs seized during the operation included 258 kg of amphetamines, 43 kg of cocaine, 43 kg of MDMA, 64 kg of drugs, including fentanyl, and more than 10 kg of LSD and ecstasy pills. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s quote.
“Operation SpecTor is a coordinated international law enforcement effort across three continents to disrupt the drug trade on the dark web, and it is the highest number of seizures and the highest number of arrests of any Department of Justice coordinated international action against drug traffickers on the dark web. Our message to dark web criminals is this: you can try to hide in the most remote corners of the Internet, but the DOJ will find you and bring you to justice for your crimes.”
Operation SpecTor is the largest coordinated international operation against buyers and sellers of illegal goods on the dark web. It was preceded by Operation DisrupTor in 2020 and Operation Dark HunTor in 2021, which resulted in 179 and 150 arrests, respectively.