Operation Buccaneer was the culmination of an investigation that has been ongoing for over a year under the direction of the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Justice Department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, working in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Buccaneer marks the most significant law enforcement penetration to date of international organizations engaged in the illegal distribution of copyrighted software, games and movies over the Internet. The enforcement action involved the simultaneous execution of 58 search warrants against high-level "warez" leadership and members within the United States and abroad. It was also the first transnational enforcement action to strike at the most highly placed and skilled members of these international criminal enterprises.
Although one of the primary criminal enterprises targeted by Operation Buccaneer was the warez group known as "DrinkOrDie," which consists of approximately 40 members worldwide, the investigation led to infiltration and development of cases against individuals from other top groups as well.
The organizations targeted by Buccaneer are highly structured and security-conscious criminal groups that specialize in obtaining the latest computer software, games, and movies; stripping ("cracking") copyright protections; and releasing the final product to hundreds of Internet sites worldwide. Because the "suppliers" to these groups are often company insiders, pirated products frequently are in circulation before, or within hours, of the release of the legitimate product to consumers. The groups are structured specifically to avoid detection.