The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has seized a trove of digital devices after carrying out a series of search warrants in Queensland relating to the shutdown of DarkMarket, claimed to be the world’s largest illegal marketplace on the dark web.
The AFP said it seized a laptop, four mobile phones, six USB thumb drives and five hard drives, along with SIM cards and bank cards during search warrants that were executed in Park Ridge, Mount Cotton and at a commercial facility in Molendinar.
More arrests could follow as a result of the search warrants it has already carried out, the AFP indicated, with cybercrime operations and digital forensic teams reviewing the seized evidence.
The local raids came almost exactly a week after German police arrested a 34-year-old Australian national accused of operating the DarkMarket marketplace, which it said was used for selling drugs, counterfeit cash, stolen credit card data, anonymous SIM cards and malware.
The Australian man, who was arrested near the border of Germany and Denmark on 11 January, is accused of being an administrator of DarkMarket.
Officers shut down DarkMarket’s servers and criminal infrastructure, which were operating in Germany.
The AFP-led cybercrime Operation Futurist was sparked after information was provided by the German State Criminal Police Office.
According to the AFP, DarkMarket had almost 500,000 users, more than 2400 sellers and more than 320,000 transactions.
Almost $220 million in cryptocurrency was traded on the site, the AFP said.
According to AFP Southern Command acting commander investigations Jayne Crossling, it was likely Australian criminals were purchasing illicit items from DarkMarket.
“Some of these items could have been used or acquired by Australians in Australia. The job of the AFP and its partner agencies is to keep Australians safe,’’ acting commander Crossling said.
“If police knew there was criminal activity occurring in geographic location, action would be taken. There is no difference with the dark web, although the anonymising features of the dark web makes it harder for law enforcement to identify perpetrators, who commit abhorrent crimes.”
“The AFP works very effectively with law enforcement globally to combine tools and expertise to reduce the risk of harm to the community. Despite that, too many crimes are being facilitated on the dark web,” she added.