Massive Dark-Web Bust Takes Down 400 Sites
17 arrested this week
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2014 8:43 AM CST
EU counterterrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove, right, talks as he sits next to the director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, in Brussels on Nov. 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
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(Newser) – Online shoppers looking for drugs, weapons, or hitmen may have just hit a wall. Authorities from 17 countries, including the US, have shut down a huge chunk of the "dark web" in the past week, making some 17 arrests, the Guardian reports. Authorities seized host servers, more than 400 domains, cash, drugs, and bitcoin and wiped out marketplaces such as Silk Road 2.0, Pandora, Cannabis Road, and Hydra after a six-month investigation, reports USA Today. The Guardian dubs "Operation Onymous" "one of the biggest dark-web takedowns to date."

In the case of Silk Road 2.0, an undercover FBI agent was able to secure a role as a senior admin for the site and likely gained the information needed to, as the Guardian puts it, "deanonymize users." Police say alleged mastermind Blake Benthall (alleged to go by "Defcon"), arrested Wednesday in San Francisco, took the helm of Silk Road 2.0 just five weeks after the original was shut down last year. A LinkedIn page in Benthall's name says he's a former engineer at SpaceX, NBC News reports. "For a long time, criminals have considered themselves beyond reach" by using the Tor network, a director of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre says. "We can now show that they are neither invisible nor untouchable."
 

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