POLICE on two continents swooped on top members of computer hacking group LulzSec early today, and acting largely on evidence gathered by the organisation's leader - who sources say has been secretly working for the government for months - arrested three and charged two more with conspiracy.
Charges against four of the five were based on a conspiracy case filed in New York federal court.
An indictment charging the suspects, who include two men from Great Britain, two from Ireland and an American from Chicago, is expected to be unsealed today in the Southern District of New York.
"This is devastating to the organisation," an FBI official involved with the investigation said. "We're chopping off the head of LulzSec."
The offshoot of the loose network of hackers, Anonymous, believed to have caused billions of dollars in damage to governments and corporations, was allegedly led by a shadowy figure FoxNews.com has identified as Hector Xavier Monsegur, 28.
Working under the alias "Sabu", the unemployed father of two allegedly commanded a loosely-organised, international team of thousands of hackers from his nerve centre in a public housing project on New York's Lower East Side.
After the FBI unmasked Monsegur last June, he became a cooperating witness, sources said.
Apparently this wasn't completely unexpected.