(The Hague) A global crackdown on illegal trade on the dark web has led to 288 arrests and the seizure of around 51 million euros (CA$76 million) in cash and virtual currency, it was announced on Tuesday the European police office.

“Law enforcement seized the illegal platform […] ‘Monopoly Market’ and arrested 288 suspects involved in buying or selling drugs on the dark web,” said Europol, which sits in La Hague.

850 kilos of drugs and 117 firearms were also seized, added the office, which coordinated the international operation called “ SpecTor ”, involving nine countries.

The crackdown followed an operation by German police in 2021 in which they seized the criminal infrastructure of the sales platform.

“Europol has compiled intelligence packages based on valuable evidence provided by German authorities,” Europol said.

This information “has served as the basis for hundreds of national investigations”, added the office.

Arrested sellers “were also active in other illicit markets”, according to Europol, which pointed out that some of them were “high value” targets.

“ This operation sends a strong message to criminals on the dark web ”, welcomed Europol’s director general, Catherine De Bolle, quoted in the press release.

“International law enforcement has the means and ability to identify you and hold you accountable for your illegal activities, even on the dark web,” she continued.

Arrests took place across the EU, but also in the UK (158), the US (55) and one person was arrested in Brazil, according to Europol.

The narcotics seized included more than 258 kg of amphetamines, 43 kg of cocaine, 43 kg of MDMA and more than 10 kg of LSD and ecstasy pills, the same source said.