The European law enforcement agency Europol announced today that they have taken down an illegal darknet marketplace cooperating with Italian police. The marketplace allegedly sold child pornography, drugs, weapons and other illegal items and accepted Bitcoins as a payment method.
The sting dubbed “Operation Babylon” had been taking place for two years before coming to its conclusion, working alongside FBI along with other European police forces. The website is said to have done 17,000 transactions for illegal goods amongst its 14,000 users from all corners of the world.
Around 210 of the 14,000 members were said to be drug dealers in a small or larger scale, including one of the most famous Italian drug dealers who went under the screen name “Pablo Escobar”.
“The virtual world of the Dark Web has its own hierarchies and severe rules on access and affiliation,” Michele Prestipino, a public prosecutor involved with the investigation said in a press statement. “Getting into such a closed community was extremely difficult.”
“There is an incredible criminal world, parallel to The Internet, which paradoxically represents only a small part of the communications taking place over the Web. For us this investigation is just a point of departure.”
The site is suspected to having been started by an Italian living in Naples, which explains the Italian polices involvement. It would not be surprising if the mafia would be involved in the business, as it would a great place to sell illegal goods and receive a currency that is relatively easy to launder.
In the sting, Europol seized around 14,000 Bitcoin wallets which were holding around €1,000,000 in funds. No arrests has been made so far.