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November 7, 2014

Police crackdown on dark web results in 17 arrests

400 dark websites shut down and six arrested with ties to Silk Road

By Jimmy Nicholls

International police have swooped on several online drug marketplaces in a co-ordinated attack aimed at destabilising the black market for narcotics.

Suspected admins of Silk Road were among six people arrested by the National Crime Agency (NCA), alongside others involved in drug trafficking or underground e-commerce.

Roy McComb, deputy director of the National Crime Agency, said: "Over the months since the original Silk Road was taken down, we have been working with partners in the US and Europe to locate technical infrastructure, key to the dark web, and to investigate individuals suspected of significant involvement in illegal online market places.

"The operation is ongoing and more arrests can be expected as we continue to investigate those involved in setting up and profiting from these illegal market places."

The operation, involving 16 European countries and the US, resulted in 17 arrests and 400 dark web sites being shut down.

Of those arrested in the UK, three were from Aberdovey in Wales and two were located in Lincolnshire. One other was located in Liverpool.

"Criminals like to think that the dark web provides a safe, anonymous haven but in reality this is just like any other organised crime network," McComb added.

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"It may take time and effort to investigate and build a criminal case, but we are determined to identify and prosecute people caught dealing drugs and committing serious crime using the dark web."

Blake "Defcon" Benthall, a man alleged to be leading the team behind the second iteration Silk Road, was also arrested in San Francisco, California this week, and faces a life sentence if convicted of conspiring to traffic drugs.

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