Gardaí have set up special unit to watch 'dark web'

Four people have been held in a computer hacking probe in the UK. Pic. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Paul Williams

Gardaí have established an ad-hoc specialist undercover cyber crime unit to target drug dealers and other criminals using the dark net to do their business.

The nascent squad involves no more than a handful of officers including a number of civilian experts employed to investigate computer crime.

The buyers and sellers believe that the anonymity and secrecy of the dark net renders them untouchable.

But over a year ago officers from the Garda National Drug Unit and the Bureau of Fraud Investigation set about breaching this secret world by setting themselves up as potential buyers for narcotics.

These cyber space "mockies" worked closely with a number of other international agencies and eventually made contact with a number of Irish-based drug dealers.

They were not members of a hardened dangerous crime gang. Their laptops did all the business. The operation led to a number of arrests and the seizure of LSD and ecstasy valued at an estimated €180,000.