LYON, France, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Twenty-five people suspected of being linked to the secretive Internet hacking group Anonymous were arrested in Europe and Latin America, Interpol said Tuesday.
The arrests made in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain were made as part of Operation Unmask, the international law enforcement agency said in a release posted on its Web site.
The investigation began in mid-February following a series of coordinated cyber-attacks originating in those countries against the Colombian Ministry of Defense and presidential Web sites, along with Chile's Endesa electricity company, its national library and other sites.
Interpol said about 250 pieces of information technology equipment and mobile phones were seized as law officers searched 40 premises in 15 cities. Payment cards and cash were also confiscated.
The suspected hackers range in age from 17 to 40, Interpol said.
"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, no matter where it originates or where it is targeted," said Bernd Rossbach, acting Interpol executive director of police services.
Anonymous members have been involved in a number of other high-profile hacking cases, including this week's release of 5 million e-mails by WikiLeaks, which Anonymous is said to have obtained from the U.S. global intelligence firm Stratfor.