Operation Buccaneer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Operation Buccaneer is an "ongoing international copyright piracy investigation and prosecution" undertaken by the United States federal government.[1] It was part of a crackdown divided into three parts: Operation Bandwidth, Operation Buccaneer and Digital Piratez.[2]

An undercover operation began in October 2000.[3] On December 11, 2001, law enforcement agents in six countries targeted 62 people suspected of violating software copyright, with leads in twenty other countries. U.S. law enforcement agents, led by the United States Customs Service, raided computers in the economics department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[4] the University of California, Los Angeles, an "off-campus location" of the University of Oregon, and dorm rooms at Duke University and Purdue University.[5] Information obtained led to a subsequent raid at the Rochester Institute of Technology,[6] described by "warez gadfly 'ttol'" as one of "the two major hubs for communications between pirate groups" (along with the University of Twente).[7] However, the universities themselves were not considered targets of the criminal investigation.[8] Several software companies were also raided.[6]

"The Customs Service said it had singled out DrinkOrDie because it was considered one of the most sophisticated of the rings operating within a loose, global network."[5] The DrinkOrDie site, where non-free software could be downloaded for free, was shut down the following day.[5] However, Farhad Manjoo wrote in a Wired magazine article that others were puzzled why the group was targeted; Manjoo characterized them as "small potatoes in the world of software theft", while an anonymous Australian infringer was quoted as saying, "they aren't the first to come to mind when you think to yourself 'who's the big deal in the scene?'"[9]

Around 70[3] search warrants were served and 150[5] computers were seized for analysis. Raids were also conducted in Canada, Britain, Australia, Finland, Norway and Sweden.[4][10] Other groups investigated in the operation were warez groups such as RiSC, RAZOR1911, RequestToSend (RTS), ShadowRealm (SRM), WeLoveWarez (WLW) and POPZ.[11][12]

Related law enforcement actions include: Operation Fastlink, Operation Digital Gridlock, Operation D-Elite and Operation Site Down.


"This investigation underscores the severity and scope of a multibillion-dollar software swindle over the Internet, as well as the vulnerabilities of this technology to outside attack."
Robert C. Bonner, commissioner of the Customs Service
"Our targets are not your stereotypical teenage hacker."
— Customs assistant commissioner John Varrone
"This is not a sport. This is a serious crime. These people should do some hard time."[13]
Commerce undersecretary Phil Bond
"Software piracy undermines the stability of the burgeoning e-commerce industry and it is a direct threat to innovative companies that help strengthen the U.S. economy."
— Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Kenneth Dam
"This investigation only assist the multibillion-dollar companies to swindle you, the avid consumer, as well as the vulnerable people that deem information should be free, sure we would like people to buy the games they test play, but it doesn't happen because people have to pay #$ a gallon for gas and shit. Technology is to be used for the good of all, not some fat ass company man who doesn't know the first thing from a rar to a iso...... Gravy is awful good."
— buj, Member of razor 1911

Felony convictions[edit]

As of October 2002, 17[14] people have been convicted of felonies in the United States, with 13 given federal prison terms of up to 46 months.[1] In addition, Australian resident Hew Raymond Griffiths, the self-admitted leader of DrinkorDie,[15] fought extradition to the United States for almost three years, but eventually lost and was sentenced to 51 months, though he was credited for the time served in an Australian jail.

In the United Kingdom, six were formally charged.[16] In May 2005, some DrinkorDie members were the first to be sentenced in the United Kingdom as a result of Operation Buccaneer.[17]

Convictions in the United States[11]
Name Scenename Conviction date Offense Sentence
Berry, Richard Flood April 29, 2002 Conspiracy
Buchanan, Anthony spaceace August 19, 2002 Criminal copyright infringement
Clardy, Andrew Doodad April 4, 2002 Criminal copyright infringement
Aiding and abetting
Cole, Myron t3rminal July 10, 2002 Criminal copyright infringement
Eiser, Derek Psychod June 21, 2002 Criminal copyright infringement
Erickson, Barry Radsl May 2, 2002 Conspiracy
Grimes, David A. Chevelle March 4, 2002 Conspiracy
Gross, Robert targetpractice May 22, 2002 Criminal copyright infringement
Hunt, Nathan Azide April 3, 2002 Conspiracy
Kartadinata, Kent Tenkuken January 31, 2002 Conspiracy
Kelly, Michael Erupt April 10, 2002 Conspiracy
Nawara, Stacey Avec March 19, 2002 Conspiracy
Nguyen, Mike Hackrat January 31, 2002 Conspiracy
Pattanayek, Sabuj Buj April 11, 2002 Conspiracy 41 months[16]
Riffe, John blue May 9, 2002 Criminal copyright infringement
Sankus, John Jr. eriFlleH February 27, 2002 Conspiracy 46 months[18]
Tresco, Christopher BigRar May 28, 2002 Conspiracy 33 months[19]

Raid locations[edit]

Countries United States cities

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Operation Buccaneer: Overview". Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section, United States Department of Justice. Archived from the original on December 30, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  2. ^ Wilson P. Dizard, III (2002-01-21). "Software piracy probe slowed by evidence glut: Prosecutors are reviewing 50T of data, plus leads from pirates who are cooperating with them, in a global 'warez' crackdown. (Law Enforcement)". Government Computer News. 1105 Media, Inc. 21 (2).
  3. ^ a b "Operation Buccaneer: The Investigation". Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section, United States Department of Justice. Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "MIT cooperating in six-nation computer piracy raid". MIT News. December 12, 2001. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d Philip Shenon (December 12, 2001). "Internet Piracy Is Suspected as U.S. Agents Raid Campuses". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b Philip Shenon (December 19, 2001). "U.S. Expands Investigation Into Piracy of Software". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Robert Lemos (December 19, 2001). "FBI raids cripple software pirates". CNET. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  8. ^ Greg Farrell (December 12, 2001). "U.S. seizes computers in software piracy raids". USA Today.
  9. ^ Farhad Manjoo (December 13, 2001). "Were DrinkOrDie Raids Overkill?". Wired magazine. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  10. ^ Jasper Koning (December 20, 2001). "Dutch university targeted in piracy raids". CNET. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Urbas, G. (2007). "Cross-national investigation and prosecution of intellectual property crimes: The example of "Operation Buccaneer"". Crime, Law and Social Change. 46 (4–5): 207–221. doi:10.1007/s10611-007-9060-x.
  12. ^ US Department of Justice. "Operation Buccaneer". Archived from the original on 2011-07-22.
  13. ^ "Feds Zero In on Piracy Ring". Associated Press. December 11, 2001. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  14. ^ "Operation Buccaneer: Defendants". Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section, United States Department of Justice. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  15. ^ "Elder of internet piracy talks to Lateline". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. April 29, 2008. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Member of "DrinkOrDie" Warez Group Sentenced to 41 Months". United States Attorney (Eastern District of Virginia) Paul J. McNultey, U.S. Department of Justice. July 2, 2002. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  17. ^ Peter Sommer (May 19, 2005). "Cybercrime fight under-funded as millions 'wasted' on software piracy convictions". Computer Weekly. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  18. ^ "Warez Leader Sentenced to 46 Months". United States Attorney (Eastern District of Virginia) Paul J. McNultey, U.S. Department of Justice. May 17, 2002. Archived from the original on December 9, 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
  19. ^ "Software piracy group member gets 33 months in prison". Computer Weekly magazine. August 21, 2002. Retrieved January 2, 2012.

External links[edit]