Interpol has arrested 25 suspected members of the 'Anonymous' hackers group in a swoop on over a dozen cities in Europe and Latin America, the global police body said Tuesday.
"Operation Unmask was launched in mid-February following a series of coordinated cyber-attacks originating from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain," said the world police body based in the French city of Lyon.
The operation was carried out by police from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain, the statement said, with 250 items of computer equipment and mobile phones seized in raids on 40 premises in 15 cities.
Police also seized credit cards and cash from the suspects, aged 17 to 40.
"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," said Interpol's acting director of police services.
However, it was not clear what evidence there was to prove those arrested were part of Anonymous, an extremely loose-knit international movement of online activists, or "hacktivists."
Spanish police said earlier they had arrested four suspected hackers accused of sabotaging websites and publishing confidential data on the Internet.
They were accused of hacking political parties' and companies' websites and adding fangs to the faces of leaders in photographs online, and publishing data identifying top officials' security guards, Spanish police said.
The operation, carried out after trawling through computer logs in order to trace IP addresses, also netted 10 suspects in Argentina, six in Chile and five in Colombia, Spanish police said.
They said one of the suspects went by the nicknames Thunder and Pacotron and was suspected of running the computer network used by Anonymous in Spain and Latin America, via servers in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
He was arrested in the southern Spanish city of Malaga.
Two of the suspects were in detention while one was bailed and the fourth was a minor who was left in the care of his parents.
Source: AFP Global Edition