Authorities arrest 179 dark web traffickers and tell others: “we’ll come get you”

by Kelvin
The dangerous botnet that Microsoft wanted to quell before the US election is still active

179 arrests in 6 countries, 500 kilos of drugs and medicines seized, and more than 6.5 million dollars. With “Operation Disruptor”, law enforcement is sending a strong message to dark web traffickers.

“PillCosby”, “DRXanax”, and 177 other drug and drug traffickers were imprisoned during a wave of arrests over several months, launched simultaneously by the American and European authorities. These dealers organized their business on the, this less visible side of the Internet, accessible by networks parallel to traditional paths.


Europol and the FBI proudly displayed the record of the “” at a press conference on September 22, 2020, which Wired attended. 500 kilos of drugs and $ 6.5 million (in cash and cryptocurrency) were seized from the homes and warehouses of the offenders.

Law enforcement has managed to identify the people behind the pseudonyms of dozens of dark web traffickers. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama.

Usually, when police attack dark web activity, they attack marketplaces and forums where goods are traded, such as AlphaBay or Silk Road. But this time, she decided to directly target the traffickers, who do business in several markets at the same time. It is therefore difficult to estimate the medium-term effects of the operation on drug trafficking. Will the competitors of the 179 defendants be able to resume their volume of activity?

Information from the dismantling of a marketplace

The operation has its origins in the dismantling of a darkweb marketplace, “Wall Street Market”, by the German police. It was in May 2019, and the police were able to seize the back end server of the market. They were then able to extract essential information to trace the identity of certain sellers. Despite the little identification required and some additional protections offered by the networks used to connect to the dark web, erasing all digital traces of traffic remains an impractical task.

It is on this point that the director of the FBI Christopher Wray insisted during the press conference: “”. This statement aligns with the organization’s recent comments on other cybercrime cases.

Europol, which coordinated the European part of the operation, explains that it gathered information from the Wall Street Market server in intelligence files sent to the countries affected by the trafficking. It is then up to local authorities to use this information to launch their own investigations.

Moreover, the European police are warning: Operation Disruptor is not over, and more arrests are to come. What to worry about the hundreds of remaining traffickers?

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