Europol announces five arrests in 'unprecedented' cybercrime operation
Five key suspects have been arrested in connection with a massive operation aimed at knocking out a cybercrime group accused of inflicting hundreds of millions of euro in losses worldwide, Europol said.
The European Union police agency said the sweep was "unprecedented in its scale" and resulted in the seizure of 39 servers and hundreds of thousands of internet domains used by the group, nicknamed Avalanche.
Unlike some past seizures - which grabbed cybercriminals' infrastructure while leaving the masterminds free to reorganise their networks later - officials say they are confident they have struck a fatal blow this time around.
"We have arrested the top, the head of the snake," Fernando Ruiz, the head of operations at Europol's Cybercrime Centre, told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.
"We are sure that this will have a very huge impact."
Mr Ruiz said the arrests were made on Wednesday following months of preparation and years of investigation by law enforcement agencies from 30 different jurisdictions.
He declined to say where the suspects were detained, saying the countries where the arrests took place had asked Europol not to identify them.
Senior European justice official Michele Coninsx said on Thursday that the bust "marks a significant moment in the fight against serious organised cybercrime".