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When the Black Axe falls: cybercrime suspects detained in global bust

More than 70 suspects have been arrested during an Interpol-led crackdown on Black Axe, a West African outfit believed to be an increasingly big player on the cybercrime scene.

Operation Jackal saw 14 countries marshal their forces in a concerted campaign involving police in South Africa, Ireland, and Italy, in what is the first orchestrated international effort to specifically target the West African cyber-gang.

In a sign of what was to come, earlier this month a US resident was charged by a federal court in New Jersey with laundering money for Black Axe – a cybercrime outfit that dates back half a century and is believed by some to be a cult.

Now it looks as though the group is firmly in the sights of the US and other Western countries, which participated in a five-day operation late last month against suspected affiliates believed to be working as money mules and in other criminal capacities for the notorious gang.

Some fifty properties were searched during Operation Jackal, which froze 1.2 million euros in bank accounts, and seized cars, properties, tens of thousands in cash, and 12,000 SIM cards.

“Illicit financial funds are the lifeblood of transnational organized crime, and we have witnessed how groups like Black Axe will channel money gained from online financial scams into other crime areas, such as drugs and human trafficking,” said Interpol, announcing the bust.

Other countries that took part in Jackal include Nigeria, where Black Axe is thought to have originated, Argentina, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates.

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