Dutch arrest 10 for allegedly helping dark Web drug dealers

Dutch police have arrested 10 men suspected of using bitcoin to launder up to $22 million for drug dealers selling their product through anonymous online markets, Reuters reported.

According to authorities, police detained the men during coordinated raids at 15 locations in the Netherlands. All those arrested are Dutch and in their 20s.

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U.S. officials also helped Dutch authorities seize an unknown amount of the digital currency bitcoin in the sting.

Prosecutors say the men worked with drug dealers who were vendors on online markets operating on the dark Web, an anonymous digital network that hides users’ traffic and is only accessible using specific software.

The suspects worked with bitcoin because it is largely untraceable and can be moved quickly between countries without relying on traditional financial institutions.

Investigators caught on to the scheme because the 10 men were regularly depositing large amounts of money into their bank accounts, then quickly withdrawing the cash from ATMs.

A spokeswoman for the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service said the country is also investigating the actual drug sellers.

The raid is just the latest in a long string of arrests by international authorities targeting cyber criminals.

U.S. officials have been vocal about their efforts to crack down on individual cyber crooks as well as broader digital crime syndicates.  

In August, federal authorities brought civil or criminal charges against 32 people and companies that allegedly conspired to steal unpublished financial press releases and shuttle that information to traders.

A few months prior to that, the Department of Justice charged 56 individuals allegedly involved in a global cyber crime ring that stole credit card data and fabricated IDs, causing tens of millions of dollars in consumer losses.

The major busts came after international authorities worked together in recent years to hit a number of notorious anonymous online markets.