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OfflineYthanA
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179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown
    #26952977 - 09/24/20 05:37 PM (27 days, 6 hours ago)

179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown
www.wired.com

It’s one of the largest global dark web takedowns to date: 179 arrests spread across six countries; 500 kilograms of drugs seized; $6.5 million in cash and cryptocurrency confiscated. And while it was announced this morning, Operation Disruptor traces its roots back to May 3, 2019. That’s the day that German police seized Wall Street Market, the popular underground bazaar that gave international authorities everything they needed to upend the dark web drug trade.

It’s unclear how big a dent Operation Disruptor will make in the long run; the dark web drug market tends to bounce back, even after the high-profile collapses of marketplaces like the Silk Road and AlphaBay. But even if law enforcement is playing an eternal game of Whac-A-Mole, it’s at least gotten extremely proficient at whacking.

In the US, Operation Disruptor plays out across dozens of court documents and around 120 arrests. In Ohio, members of a group known as PillCosby were charged with mailing out over a million pills laced with fentanyl. Prosecutors in Washington, DC, allege that David Brian Pate concealed thousands of OxyContin, Xanax, and morphine pills inside souvenir maracas. A pharmacist in Nebraska allegedly planned to firebomb a local competitor after stealing their opiate supply, in service of what officials say was his booming narcotics trafficking business.

What these cases, along with the dozens of arrests across Europe, have in common is that the investigations largely stem from last year’s Wall Street Market takedown. At the time, German authorities arrested the site’s alleged operators and two of its most prolific vendors. Europol confirmed to WIRED today that it was also able to recover the Wall Street Market backend server, providing investigators with an invaluable trove of evidence.

“It provided us with all the information which led to the identification of those arrested today,” says Europol press officer Claire Georges. “We collated the information and then we sent out what we call intelligence packages to all the concerned countries. Basically it’s information or documents where we say, look, we know this person in your country has done this, you may want to open an investigation.” Georges says also that there are more arrests to come.

While announced as a package today, the arrests in the US have trickled through over the last several months. In a press conference Tuesday morning, DEA acting administrator Timothy Shea specifically called out Arden McCann, allegedly known as RCQueen, DRXanax, and other aliases across numerous dark web markets. Arrested earlier this year, McCann allegedly shipped over 10 2kilograms of fentanyl and over 300,000 counterfeit Xanax pills every month.

“In some ways this is just the perfect-storm combination of traditional criminal activity of all shapes and sizes merging with this more sophisticated technology,” FBI director Christopher Wray said at Tuesday’s press conference. “But the point of today’s announcement is it doesn’t matter where you go to try to do it or how you try to hide it, we’re coming for you.”

That has increasingly seemed to be the case. The Wall Street Market seizure is not the first or even most devastating law enforcement takeover of a dark web storefront. In 2017, Dutch police took control of Hansa, a booming darknet market, and the FBI shut down AlphaBay, an even larger competitor. While displaced AlphaBay users flocked to Hansa for their fix, Dutch authorities spent weeks logging their activity, including many of their home addresses.

The takedowns and seizures invariably have a cumulative effect. “These people don’t just operate on one market, they cover the full spectrum of the dark web,” says Europol’s Georges.

In the US, the arrests fell under the DOJ’s Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team, which includes investigators from FBI and the United States Postal Service. J-CODE’s most recent operation, called Sabotor, resulted in 61 arrests announced in March 2019.

What remains to be seen is whether dark web drug buyers will simply find new suppliers, especially since Operation Disruptor targets individual vendors rather than entire marketplaces. At the very least, though, Tuesday's announcement may give aspiring dark web vendors pause, as it only adds to law enforcement’s track record of cutting through supposedly anonymous corners of the internet.

“We have very creative people who are themselves very innovative within the law and using a variety of tools to catch people who think they can hide in the dark net,” Wray said at Tuesday’s press conference. The FBI director declined to comment on specific techniques.


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Offlinesonoramo
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: Ythan]
    #26953155 - 09/24/20 07:44 PM (27 days, 4 hours ago)

"...$6.5 million in cash and cryptocurrency confiscated..."  I'm curious: How does one "confiscate" cryptocurrency?


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OfflineDancingWolf
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: sonoramo]
    #26953446 - 09/24/20 10:16 PM (27 days, 1 hour ago)

Probably because some them kept their crypto on an exchange, web wallet, or left their secret key lying around. I'm not familiar with alt coins and if any allow for confiscation, but Bitcoin can't exactly be confiscated, only flagged.


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InvisiblebodhisattaM
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: DancingWolf]
    #26954034 - 09/25/20 10:11 AM (26 days, 13 hours ago)

Once you have control of their coins you move them to a different account. That's how


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Offlinetacodude
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: bodhisatta]
    #26954582 - 09/25/20 04:29 PM (26 days, 7 hours ago)

So what then? Is there a "confiscated BTC wallet"? Do they all go to the same wallet or is it a different wallet for each seizure? Are they documenting each case and the ammount deposited? Do they have rights as officers to use the seized coins during operations? It is pretty sketchy as they aren't really specified in law in regards to value as they have no value besides what the market dictates at the time, which is always changing. Plus there's no specific charges, which doesn't make arguing their use or possession is a crime (not saying it should be), and it forces them to find evidence of intent as there are innocent reasons to have them. Although of course it's not that common that BTC is accepted.


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OfflineDancingWolf
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: tacodude]
    #26955079 - 09/25/20 10:37 PM (26 days, 1 hour ago)

Value probably defaults IRS rules and point of sale. Suppose I sell a single Bitcoin, I would owe taxes on the monetary gain in USD/FRN at that point when I sold it, which is why it's extremely important to keep records what you paid for it and when. It's value will be marked when you bought it, then marked when you sold it. If you can't prove what you paid for it, then you get taxed on the whole value of the coin. Crypto can be treated much like a commodity, or a barter in exchange for goods and services; tax man still wants a cut and there is always another law on the books to catch all.

I'm sure various LE agencies use confiscated crypto in all kinds of stings and it may be converted to into FRN / cash and added to the budget. They use confiscated weapons, drugs, etc, in stings all the time and I see crypto being used in the same way.


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Invisiblelositos
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: DancingWolf]
    #26956052 - 09/26/20 02:36 PM (25 days, 9 hours ago)

If I'm reading this right, these are leads that stemmed from wall street and not the takedown of the most recent site?


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OfflineSugabearcrisp
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: lositos]
    #26957065 - 09/27/20 08:05 AM (24 days, 15 hours ago)

Civil forfieture laws allow for seizure of assets including btc with only suspicion of illegal activity. They are an exception to the innocent until proven guilty rule of law we enjoy, where one must prove that the asset is not the result of illegal activity to get it back. There are numerous cases of individuals having cash seized just because having it was suspicious. A recent one was a guy with several hundred thousand in cash on his way to an equipment auction to buy equipment, cash seized, business destroyed, etc.

The message is simple they dont want people able to move assets around without oversite. It is why we don't have $500 or $1,000 bills in circulation. BTC is an afront to their control, try crossing the border with a physical BTC wallet and you will get harrassed and they might seize it.


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OfflineNOTEVIL
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: DancingWolf]
    #26961611 - 09/30/20 10:35 AM (21 days, 13 hours ago)

probably just got they're wallet locked or something


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Offlinerexdetails
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Re: 179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown [Re: NOTEVIL]
    #26963909 - 10/01/20 03:44 PM (20 days, 8 hours ago)

ownership of a coin is easy enough to take, you just transfer it from wallet to wallet. the ledger is updated and life moves on. im more surprised by how little was confiscated.


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