A series of international law enforcement investigations into software pirate gangs culminated simultaneously late last year with the execution of dozens of search warrants around the world, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The investigations targeted groups that distributed "warez" (pirated software) that was a major factor in an estimated $12 billion loss for software companies last year, according to research conducted for the Business Software Alliance.
Operation Buccaneer was a 15-month investigation that included the U.S. Customs Cybersmuggling Center as well as the Justice Department's Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section. According to Customs, the first phase of the investigation focused on a warez group known as DrinkOrDie, considered to be one of the largest and most well known in the warez community. Customs executed 37 search warrants in 27 U.S. cities, while law enforcement authorities in five foreign nations simultaneously executed an additional 19 search warrants and arrested four individuals. The Justice Department called Operation Buccaneer "the first enforcement action to reach across international borders and strike at the most highly placed and skilled members of these international criminal enterprises."
The second investigation, dubbed Operation Bandwidth, was a two-year joint effort among the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of the Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. …