The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) has arrested three people in the UK following raids around the globe by law enforcement agencies investigating internet-based piracy.
The raids took place late last night as part of Operation Fastlink, which also saw raids in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore and Sweden.
A 30-year-old from Belfast, a 34-year-old from Manchester and a 22-year-old from Sheffield were arrested and officers from the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit seized cracked software from all types of media, as well as seven computers and more than 100 CD copiers.
Operation Fastlink, a US Department of Justice initiative and coordinated by the FBI, began with raids yesterday morning.
The operation's main target is 'warez' groups, which tend to be the sources of most pirated goods that are traded online, such as business software, games, music and films.
More than 200 computers, including 30 servers functioning as storage and distribution hubs, have so far been seized.
Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the NHTCU, said in a statement: "By working closely with law enforcement overseas and the Business Software Alliance, we have moved aggressively to strike at the very core of the international online piracy world."
Nearly 100 individuals worldwide have been identified by the investigation to date. Many are alleged to be leaders or high-level members of various international piracy organisations.
US attorney general John Ashcroft said in a statement: "In the past 24 hours, working closely with our foreign law enforcement counterparts, we have moved aggressively to strike at the very core of the international online piracy world.
"We are committed to combating this theft and will pursue these thieves regardless of their location."
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