Interpol announced it has arrested 25 suspected hackers suspected to be part of the Anonymous hacktivist movement across South America and Europe.
According to a media statement from Interpol, arrests were made in Spain, Argentina, Colombia and Chile by the national intelligence agencies of respective countries, with assistance provided by Interpol’s cyber crime specialists working in Latin America.
The arrested suspects are between the age of 17 and 40, and are said to be behind the cyber attacks against national and international institutions including presidential websites, Colombia’s defence ministry, Chile’s national library, Endesa Electricity Company and other government domains.
Interpol said that investigations began in mid February. Reports suggest around 40 premises in 15 cities were searched which led to the seizure of over 250 IT peripherals, credit cards and mobile phones.
In Santiago, Chile’s capital, sub-prefect Jamie Jara at a news conference announced: “Authorities arrested five Chileans and a Colombian. Two of the Chileans are 17-year-old minors”.
The case is being handled by prosecutor Marcos Mercado, a cyber crimes special, who said the suspects were charged with defacing websites, including that of Chile’s National Library, and engaging in denial-of-service attacks on websites of Endesa and Hidroaysen, Chilean electricity companies. The charges carry a penalty of maximum five years in prison, he added.
“The arrests resulted from a recent investigation and officials do not yet know if those arrested are tied to any illicit group. For now, we have not established that they have had any special communications among themselves,” the Santiago sub-prefect told reporters.
According to Colombia’s Judicial Police Gen. Carlos Mena, no arrests were made in Colombia but some Colombians had been arrested elsewhere, including Chile. He refused to confirm reports that one of those arrested in Argentina is a Colombian national.
The Argentinian government did not issue any statement on the arrests made in the country. However, an Argentinean website posted news soon after the Interpol released a statement which confirmed that 10 people were arrested from Argentina.
The international police agency announced on Tuesday they have arrested four suspected Anonymous hackers in Spain for planning and coordinating attacks on Spanish government websites and Spanish political party websites.
According to the police it also blocked two servers that were used by the hackers in Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
Police sources believe the four arrested suspects could be behind the planning, hacking and defacing of websites, denial-of-service attacks (DDOS) and posting data on police and government websites in Spain.
Interpol has no powers of investigations or arrests in any part of the world but the international agency assists local authorities including police and intelligence agencies by sharing information and data.
Anonymous, which is known for its hacks and DDOS attacks on several US government websites including the White House, FBI, and CIA, has been very active in the last few months.
Interpol website is down since the arrests were announced by the authorities. There is no word from the Paris-based agency if their website has been taken down by Anonymous as a revenge attack or not.
Anonymous is known for staging cyber attacks as part of its retaliation campaign by knocking down government websites, military, law enforcement agencies and banks if their hackers are arrested anywhere in the world.
The skills of Anonymous group are not hidden from anyone, especially after the group covertly hacked and recorded a conference call between FBI and Scotland Yard couple of months ago.
Latest reports coming from Brazil said a Twitter account associated with Anonymous’ Brazilian squad warned that Interpol operations are bound to fail.
“Interpol, you can’t take Anonymous,” the message read. “It’s an idea!”
(Written by Waqas Amir; Edited by Moign Khawaja)