A police dragnet across Europe and South America netted 25 suspected members of the notorious Anonymous hacking network, Interpol announced today (Feb. 28).
The international police agency wrote that the suspected cybercriminals were arrested in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain. Those arrested are aged between 17 and 40.
According to Interpol's announcement, police in the four countries seized 250 items of computer equipment and mobile phones, as well as credit cards and cash at 40 locations in 15 cities.
Interpol said the arrests are part of "Operation Unmask," an international offensive established in mid-February following cyberattacks launched by Anonymous members against the websites of the Colombian Ministry of Defense and the presidency, as well as Chile's national library and the Chilean electric company Endesa.
"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, no matter where it originates or where it is targeted," Bernd Rossbach, Interpol's acting executive director of police services wrote.
In response to the police action, Anonymous supporters showed their outrage by taking down Interpol's main website, www.interpol.int, most likely with a denial-of-service attack, which essentially drowns a site with overwhelming amounts of traffic.
"Interpol.int FIRE FIRE FIRE!" read a Tweet from a Brazilian Anonymous Twitter channel, which ended with the hashtag "#FreeAnons."
A following Twitter post read, "Interpol.int Tango Down. #Anonymous is not a criminal organization."
Interpol's site was down for about 30 minutes, but back online at 7:15 p.m. ET.
At 7:30 p.m., Sabu, a known Anonymous member, took to Twitter to rally the troops.
"Hackers of the world, Interpol has declared war on hackers," Sabu wrote. "Organizing arrests in South America and Europe. Time to strike back. Infiltrate."