Global crackdown on ‘dark web’ nets 17 arrests

World Today

Authorities in 16 European countries and the United States have shut down more than 400 sites on the so-called dark web and arrested 17 people behind the illegal operations. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington.

The biggest cyber bust was in the United States, where authorities arrested Blake Benthall, a 26-year-old computer programmer known on the Internet by the alias, Defcon. He ran a website called Silk Road 2.0: a Dark Web marketplace that operated like Ebay or Amazon, but with a much different offering of products and services.

Global crackdown on 'dark web' nets 17 arrests

Authorities in 16 European countries and the United States have shut down more than 400 sites on the so-called dark web and arrested 17 people behind the illegal operations. CCTV America's Jim Spellman reported this story from Washington.

“Predominantly, it’s all about drugs and false identities,” explained Douglas Smith, a former U.S. Homeland Security official. “A lot of other networks you’ve seen things were more around organized crime, prostitution, whereas this has been much more transactional. Instead of going to a club to buy your ecstasy you are going to one of these sites. Buy fake passports, driver’s license, etc.”

Silk Road 2.0 went online about a year ago after authorities shut down another site with the same name. By September of this year, it was handling about $8 billion a month in transactions and had about 150,000 active users.

U.S. federal authorities managed to get an undercover agent into the operation and ultimately revealed Benthall to be the man at the end of the Silk Road.

“They call themselves ‘silk road.’ Well in this case, they found that single thread,” said Smith.”By grabbing that single thread, they were able to untangle this web and bring them to where they need to do to make the arrest just did.”

Authorities in 16 European countries worked together with American officials to shut down websites, make arrests, and seize assets worth a combined total of about $1 million.