As law enforcement agencies around the world continue taking down online markets on the Dark Web, the Dutch National Police and the nation’s Public Prosecution Service are trying out a new strategy for deterring sellers and buyers of illegal goods.
Operation Hyperion – a recent coordinated law enforcement action that included agencies from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands, Finland Sweden, Ireland, and Spain – resulted in a number of law enforcement leads on cases related to the buying and selling of illicit drugs and other goods on the Darknet.
“While illegal drugs continue to be the biggest item purchased and sold on Darknet marketplaces, law enforcement agencies around the world are also seeing counterfeit prescription drugs and other counterfeit items, dangerous and deadly synthetic drugs like Fentanyl, deadly toxins, fake and stolen identities, identity documents and stolen credit card data, as well as illegal services like computer hacking, murder for hire and money laundering,” the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency noted.
As part of Operation Hyperion, the Dutch police and prosecution service took over a darknet market and changed its main page to a show of force of their investigative powers (as evidenced in the screenshot above).
“Via the Hidden Service, an English darknet website, the National Prosecution Service and police show the darknet community that they act actively on the darknet in the first place. Secondly, the team communicates about the detection and prosecution of many large vendors on the underground marketplaces. Thirdly, the Hidden Service points out that buyers of illegal goods aren’t as anonymous on the darknet as the might think,” the Dutch Public Prosecution Service explained.
The FAQ section provided on the website says that “If you are a resident of the Netherlands and you bought a small user’s quantity of drugs, no legal action will be taken right now. If you bought larger quantities of drugs, or took up other goods or services, then it is possible an investigation will be initiated.”
Also that, in the Netherlands, the maximum sentence for international hard drugs trafficking is twelve years, and eight years for arms trafficking.
“If your username and residence are on this website, you’re identified as buyer of one or more Dark Markets. This means that your personal details are known to the police and the judicial authorities. It depends on your activities at this underground marketplace what the consequences will be,” the site explains.