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Europol Threatens to Come After People Using Bitcoin on Dark Net Marketplaces Like Silk Road 3.0

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:41 PM
Caleb Chen
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:41 PM

Darknet marketplaces are facing increased action from governments around the world, as anticipated In a release today, the United Kingdom National Crime Agency revealed their part in the ongoing Operation Onymous that has brought several country’s best online crime agencies together to bring down over 400 darknet websites, not all of the marketplaces. The UK NCA worked with the European Cybercrime Center to take down the infrastructure supporting these sites.

The news of coordinated government action against Darknet marketplaces came to light with the closing of Silk Road 2.0 yesterday morning and the arrest of Blake “Defcon” Benthall, who has admitted to being the administrator of Silk Road 2.0. In total, over a dozen people have been arrested around the world in Ireland, Germany, and the United States.

UK NCA’s Deputy Director Roy McComb commented:

“Over the months since the original Silk Road was taken down, we have been working with partners in the US and Europe to locate technical infrastructure, the key to the dark web and to investigate individuals suspected of significant involvement in illegal online market places. Those arrested by the NCA in this phase of the operation are suspected of setting up Silk Road 2.0, or of being significant vendors of illegal drugs.

“The operation is ongoing and more arrests can be expected as we continue to investigate those involved in setting up and profiting from these illegal market places. Criminals like to think that the dark web provides a safe, anonymous haven but in reality, this is just like any other organized crime network. It may take time and effort to investigate and build a criminal case, but we are determined to identify and prosecute people caught dealing drugs and committing a serious crime using the dark web.”

Europol Attempts to Scare Users Away from the Dark Net

Also publicized today, Europol has participated in 17 different arrests around the world (TechCrunch tries to ID some of the unannounced ones here ). Europol’s head, Oerting, puffed his chest like the FBI:

“In the next wave we’re going to come after people using these sites,” he said. “They might hear a knock at the door.”

However, Oerting declined to comment on whether or not any of Europol’s 17 arrests picked up any child pornography or weapons. Oerting claims that the “libertarian arguments that online markets reduce violent drug-related crime are wrong, as the violence merely goes unseen.” It’s always nice to see heads of agencies make unfounded claims in the hope of increased publicity. Oerting even went so far as to say specifically:

“I think there will be more than 55 different markets shut down. We didn’t get (major sites) Agora or Evolution, because there’s only so much we can do on one day.”

The vast majority of darknet marketplaces have security measures in place to protect their users’ identities and funds. Are users of Darknet marketplaces really in trouble? Comment below!

Images from Shutterstock.