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Global 'Dark Web' Bust Nabs Suspects, Loot

FILE: A woman uses a smartphone in front of a laptop on April 3, 2019, in Abidjan. - According to the figures of the national police, nearly one hundred crooks of the internet, were arrested in 2018 in Ivory Coast, a country known for its scammers on the web,

THE HAGUE - A global crackdown has halted a major "dark web" marketplace, with international police arresting 288 suspects and recovering more than 50 million euros ($54.8 million) in cash and virtual currency, Europol said on Tuesday.

The joint operation called SpecTor by U.S., British, Brazilian and European law enforcement also netted almost a ton of drugs and 117 firearms, Europe's policing agency said.

"In an operation coordinated by Europol and involving nine countries, law enforcement have seized the illegal dark web marketplace 'Monopoly Market' and arrested 288 suspects involved in buying or selling drugs on the dark web," the Hague-based Europol said in a statement.

"A number of these suspects were considered high-value targets," Europol said.

The sting followed in the wake of a successful 2021 operation by German police in which it seized the Monopoly Market's criminal infrastructure.

"Europol has been compiling intelligence packages based on troves of evidence provided by the German authorities," Europol said.

"These target packages, created by cross-matching and analyzing the collected data and evidence served as the basis for hundreds of national investigations," it said.

"As a result, 288 vendors and buyers who engaged in tens-of-thousands of sales of licit goods were arrested across Europe, Britain, the United States and Brazil," Europol said.