In a series of coordinated nationwide raids, the FBI on Tuesday arrested 16 people suspected of participating in attacks led by Anonymous and Lulzsec upon various websites.
Fourteen individuals were arrested in connection with a directed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on PayPal's website last December. The attacks on PayPal, dubbed "Operation Avenge Assange," were organized by the "hacktivist" group Anonymous in retaliation for PayPal refusing to process payments from WikiLeaks supporters.
The 14 were arrested in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release. All but three were in their 20s; the exceptions were two men in their 30s and a 42-year-old woman.
Two other individuals in Florida and New Jersey were arrested for participating in more recent actions led by the Anonymous spin-off group Lulz Security, or LulzSec.
LulzSec "retired" three weeks ago and recombined with Anonymous to form a new group called AntiSec; however, LulzSec couldn't resist coming back last night for one last prank, altering the website of the Sun newspaper in London with a fake story about News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch's death.
As part of the same dragnet operation today, police in the United Kingdom arrested one person and the Dutch police arrested four people for "alleged related cybercrimes."
To date, the DOJ reported that "more than 75 searches have taken place in the United States as part of the ongoing investigations into these attacks."
The indictments were unsealed in the Northern District of California in San Jose. PayPal, a subsidiary of eBay, is based in nearby Palo Alto.
The day began with FoxNews.com's report of raids on the homes of suspected Anonymous members in the New York City area.
The FBI confiscated at least one laptop computer from a home in Baldwin, N.Y., on Long Island, after executing a search warrant at 6 a.m. EDT and spending nearly two hours there, Fox News reported.
Agents raided another home on Long Island and one in Brooklyn.
Today's sweep was the latest step against Anonymous and Lulzsec in a month-long crackdown that began when police in London arrested 19-year-old Ryan Cleary, suspected of orchestrating online attacks on behalf of Lulzsec.
Anonymous sounded defiant about the pursuit by authorities. An early-morning Twitter post from ThaiAnonymous, a Twitter feed allegedly connected to Anonymous, read: "It doesn't matter how many people the 'FBI arrest' … wether [sic] they are core members or not …#anonymous have started something unstoppable."