Updated: Tuesday, 28 Feb 2012, 6:17 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 28 Feb 2012, 6:17 PM EST
LYON, France - Interpol has arrested 25 suspected members of the Anonymous hackers group in a swoop covering more than 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," Interpol said.
The statement cited attacks on the websites of the Colombian Ministry of Defense and the presidency, as well as on Chile's Endesa electricity company and its National Library, among others.
The operation was carried out by police from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain, the statement said, with 250 items of computer equipment and cell 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 Bernd Rossbach, acting director of police services at Interpol, which is in the French city of Lyon.
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 the websites of political parties and companies 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.
Anonymous has in recent weeks targeted the websites of a series of police organizations, with subgroup Antisec vandalizing the website of a major US prison contractor last Friday.
Anonymous took credit Thursday for an online raid on the Los Angeles Police Canine Association and previously attacked websites of the CIA and FBI.
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