The month of October ended with harsh examples of global law enforcement’s ever-growing darknet presence. We wrote about one such example: Operation Hyperion. Dutch police launched a site on the deepweb where they issued a warning to buyers and sellers. “You have our attention,” the site announced, followed by a list of arrested vendors.
On October 31, Swedish police issued a press release regarding the mass identification of darknet transactions and buyers. Swedish police, with the help of the Customs Service, identified 20,000 narcotic sales and 3,000 buyers.
Sweden’s breakthrough in identifying buyers from the DNMs coincided perfectly with the announcement made by ICE. Similarly, the announcement coincided with the newly-launched warning page to darknet buyers and sellers.
Swedish police, in their press release, credited many countries involved in this global investigation. The US led the operation, but other countries participated as well. Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Spain, and Finland were also listed.
The listing, for the most part, matched ICE’s list:
International partners included Europol the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency; Australian Federal Police; New Zealand Police and New Zealand Customs Service; Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Post and Canada Border Services Agency; The Netherlands; French Customs National Intelligence and Investigations Directorate; Finnish Customs; Swedish Police Authority and Swedish Customs; Ireland’s Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau; and Spain’s Guardia Civil.
“The idea now is to increase co-operation between countries,” said Linda Staaf, head of the intelligence unit of Sweden’s national police.
Police forces across the world issued press releases that explain, to some degree, Operation Hyperion. None of them, as of the writing of this article, included explanations and numbers, save for Sweden.
The press release explained so many buyers were able to be identified via past cases against darknet vendors. According to the statement, six of the largest Swedish DNM vendors were arrested this year. The convicted vendors received prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Staaf said that encryption used by darknet buyers has made police work more difficult. However, now darknet buyers “may even be easier to track than those who shop on the street, because there is often evidence of both computers and home,” she added.
The press release specifically pointed to drugs as the scope of the ongoing investigation. Fentanyl was singled out. Weapons, stolen or fake IDs, and credit card information were mentioned as the last most important.
Straaf concluded with a warning: “We do not yet know how many of these suspicious transfers that will be prosecuted but it is quite clear that one should not believe that one can be anonymous and feel confident about buying drugs via Darknet.”