Global police sting nets 179 dark web sellers

File: Operation DisrupTor saw law agencies pounce on those selling and buying illegal goods on the internet's premium anonymous bazaar.

AFP/Jan Hennop

THE HAGUE - A global police sting has netted 179 vendors selling illegal goods online and seized millions in currency, drugs and guns, heralding an end to the "golden age" of dark web markets, Europol said.

Operation DisrupTor saw law agencies pounce in Austria, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States to target those selling and buying illegal goods on the internet's premium anonymous bazaar, Europe's police agency said in a statement.

Led by the German federal criminal police "this takedown provided investigators with... data and materials to identify suspects behind dark web accounts used for illegal activity", Europol said.

"As a result, 179 vendors who engaged in tens-of-thousands of sales of illicit goods were arrested across Europe and the United States," in the operation coordinated by Europol, the continent's judicial agency Eurojust and US government agencies.

Some 121 suspects were arrested in the US, followed by 42 in Germany, eight in the Netherlands, four in Britain, three in Austria and one in Sweden. 

Police also seized more than $6.5-million in cash and online currencies, as well as around 500 kilogrammes of drugs including cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and methamphetamine as well as 64 guns.

A number of investigations were still ongoing, Europol said.