The Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Immigration Department, and local police joined forces in Operation Hyperion, a global law enforcement authority action against dark net users participating in illegal activities.
The “dark net period of action”, as police like to call it, was intended to develop a “more unified global law enforcement response to the growing use of dark net sites to buy and sell illicit goods and services”. Agencies from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, Finland and the Netherlands also participated in the joint police action.
Eleven search warrants were executed across Australia, which resulted in four arrests and further six court summonings. Seized narcotics included MDMA, cocaine, cannabis and other illegal substances, according to the Immigration Department. Just as in New Zealand, Australian authorities promised to continue targeting activity on dark net sites over the coming weeks.
The Immigration Department stated that while drugs are the most commonly traded products on the dark web, weapons, fake identities, prescription drugs, and other services including money laundering are also offered for sale.
“While it is not an offense to access such sites, the purchase and importation of illicit goods and services are,” Ian McCartney, the AFP’s national manager of organized crime and cyber, said in a statement. “Last week’s actions demonstrate that law enforcement agencies across the globe are working collaboratively to identify and apprehend those individuals using illicit dark net sites.”
The same just happened in New Zealand where law enforcement authorities arrested six people and sent 66 formal warnings as part of Operation Hyperion. Police also claim they have identified 300 people who have been allegedly involved in the dark net drug trade. Authorities in the country also state they have “spoken to” (possibly questioned) 160 of the mentioned persons. Wellington Police also charged a 22-year-old man for creating and administering the now closed down Vic Underworld dark net marketplace while another person faces 13 importing charges related to illicit substances.
Operation Hyperion, the first law enforcement action coordinated on a global scale against dark net market users, was conducted between October 22 and 28. According to the press release by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), police were focusing mostly on narcotics vendors and buyers (since that is the most popular product on the markets), however, authorities also paid attention to other goods and services that could be found on these illicit websites. The ICE also added that Operation Hyperion is “the first step in developing a more unified global law enforcement response to the growing usage of the dark net by individuals seeking to buy and sell illicit drugs and other illegal goods and services.”
The Dutch National Prosecution Service and Police also participated in the global action. Authorities in the country even made a website on the dark net called “Hidden Service” listing the arrested vendors, identified buyers and active vendors from the Netherlands. This could be a part of a tactic to scare off both buyers and vendors from purchasing illicit goods from the dark web.