In December 2021, an international law enforcement operation successfully dismantled Monopoly, a major dark web marketplace for illegal drugs and other illicit goods. Authorities in Germany, Finland, and the United States collaborated to seize Monopoly’s server infrastructure and arrest key figures behind the site.

Site Operator Charged

On January 30, 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced charges against a citizen of Croatia and Serbia alleged to have operated the Monopoly marketplace under the moniker “Admin.” The charges include conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Guilty Plea from Site Administrator

On February 21, 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that Admin had [pleaded guilty]2 to the charges. The plea agreement reveals that Monopoly facilitated over $52 million in sales of illegal drugs and other contraband before being taken down. The site allowed over 15,000 vendor accounts and had strict rules prohibiting anything that could harm others.

Mass Arrests Across Europe

A February 2024 announcement from Europol (3) provides further details on the scale of the operation. Police arrested 288 dark web vendors across Europe suspected of selling illicit goods through Monopoly and other darknet marketplaces. Over $32 million in cash and virtual currencies, as well as drugs, gold bars, and luxury vehicles were also seized. The coordinated effort demonstrates the ability for international law enforcement to collaborate across borders to pursue criminals attempting to leverage the anonymity of the dark web. Dismantling the extensive Monopoly enterprise was a major win in the fight to disrupt illegal online marketplaces. However, history shows that new sites inevitably emerge to fill the void left by takedowns. Continued vigilance and evolving investigative tactics will be required to counter the next generation of dark web bazaars.

The dismantling of Monopoly Market dealt a significant blow to the online drug trade. However, new darknet markets continue to emerge selling similar illegal wares. Law enforcement agencies maintain their pressure on these dark web hotspots in an ongoing game of cat-and-mouse.

Sarah Cone

By Sarah Cone

Sarah Shadow is a skilled journalist and writer with a keen eye for detail. She has spent the last 5 years specializing in news about darknet markets and activity within the Tor network. With her extensive knowledge and expertise, Sarah is able to uncover even the most hidden secrets of the digital underground. Despite her serious profession, Sarah has a playful side and enjoys solving puzzles and brain teasers in her free time. Sarah's twitter: