RCMP part of international raids on Darknet users

Law enforcement agencies around the world are stepping up their efforts to check the growth of cyber crime, most recently last week when nine police and intelligence agencies, including the RCMP,  launched co-ordinated action against buyers and sellers of illicit drugs and other illegal activities on Darknet global marketplaces.

“In Canada, the collaboration between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Post, and the Canada Border Services Agency led to the identification and targeting of an international distributor of narcotics based in Quebec that was operating on the Darknet,” the force said in the statement. “This resulted in numerous seizures and the detention of an individual involved in the international distribution of the narcotics. The investigation is ongoing.”

Internationally the action, dubbed by all participants as Operation Hyperion, resulted in numerous international seizures, arrests and leads on cases related to the buying and selling of illicit drugs and other goods on the Darknet, the part of the Internet only accessible through browsers that ensure Websites selling illegal material can only be reached anonymously.

The RCMP said the operation will also help law enforcement agencies continue to combat the trafficking of illegal goods and services by identifying new smuggling networks and trends.

The problem is that criminals being criminals, and the Internet being an open network, there’s little doubt new sites will open.

Other agencies involved came from Europol, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australian, New Zealand, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Finland.

A U.S. statement said the operation was  “the first step in developing a more unified global law enforcement response to the growing usage of the Darknet by individuals seeking to buy and sell illicit drugs and other illegal goods and services.”

While illegal drugs continue to be the biggest item purchased and sold on Darknet, the U.S. statement said, law enforcement agencies are also seeing counterfeit prescription drugs and other counterfeit items, dangerous and deadly synthetic drugs like Fentanyl, deadly toxins, fake and stolen identities, identity documents and stolen credit card data, as well as illegal services like computer hacking, murder for hire and money laundering.

This was just the latest operation against Darknet sites. In February police from several European countries arrested several people after hitting  69 homes and businesses across Germany and in Bosnia, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Russia.

In 2014 police in Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, the U.K., Italy, Switzerland, the U.S., and Chile arrested around 100 people involved in creating and selling the BlackShades malware.

But one of the biggest hits happened when U.S. police dismantled the Silk Road 2.0 Web site in November, 2014. In April of this year a man who the FBI said was the right-hand man of the person who actually headed the Silk Road pleaded guilty to a drug charge.

Meanwhile last week a 19-year old British man pleaded guilty to running a so-called Web site stresser which was actually a vehicle for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) for hire attacks, some of which were allegedly used by criminals.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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