Europol this week announced the formation of a "Dark Web Team" specifically dedicated to investigating and shutting down underground internet marketplaces, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies and operational third-party partners throughout the European Union.

According to a Europol press release, the unit will be responsible for sharing information; providing operational support and expertise; developing investigatory tools, tactics and techniques; organizing training and capacity-building initiatives; and instituting prevention and awareness campaigns.

The announcement came on the heels of a May 29 summit at Europol's headquarters in The Hague, where law enforcement officials from 28 countries convened to discuss how to take a more united approach against crime on dark web sites, such as the former AlphaBay and Hansa marketplaces, which were shut down following a 2017 international law enforcement operation.

In his opening remarks at the event, Chief Commissioner Ivaylo Spiridonov, director of the Bulgarian General Directorate Combatting Organised Crime, said on behalf of the current Presidency of the Council of the EU that the assembly "will further enhance... law enforcement's ability to find sustainable solutions and a common coordinated approach to respond to criminality on the dark web."

Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol said that the new Dark Web Team "will provide operational and technical support to law enforcement in thwarting criminality on the dark web in a coordinated and multidisciplinary manner."

Experts from Eurojust, the European Commission, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and INTERPOL also participated in the summit at The Hague, Europol has reported.