Tuesday afternoon, the international police organization Interpol announced the arrest of 25 alleged members of Anonymous by officials in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Spain. Shortly after the announcement, Interpol’s website was hit by a distributed denial-of-service attack. At the time this story was posted, the website remained unavailable.
Interpol announced that the arrests were made as part of “Operation Unmask”, an international effort launched in mid-February to grab the perpetrators of attacks on websites in Columbia and Chile, including the Colombian Defense Ministry and presidential websites, a Chilean electricity company, and Chile’s national library. Officials also seized 250 pieces of equipment, including computers and mobile phones, during a search of 40 locations in 15 cities.
The Guardian reports Interpol’s acting executive director of police services Bernd Rossbach said, “This operation shows that crime in the virtual world does have real consequences for those involved, and that the Internet cannot be seen as a safe haven for criminal activity.”
According to a report by the Associated Press, prosecutor Marcos Mercado, a specialist in computer crime, will be handling the case. The prosecutor said the suspects are charged with altering websites, and if convicted could serve between 541 days to five years in prison.
Mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the twitter account @AnonOps tweeted “TANGO DOWN II 404 Interpol, #Anonymous is not a criminal organization” apparently signaling that the police organization’s site had been taken down. As of 10 PM CT, the site remains targeted by Anonymous members in Spain and Latin America, according to the group’s Internet Relay Chat server.