Us law enforcement cracks massive darknet drug trafficking ring

Millions of US Dollars in cryptocurrency were seized

The FBI headquarters in Washington, DC
Cryptocurrency remains a popular transaction method among darknet criminals.

United States law enforcement has successfully disrupted another darknet drug trafficking ring. A communique released by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on September 22 revealed the results of its “Operation DisrupTor” program. The press release details how the investigation led to the arrest of 179 suspected drug traffickers as well as the recovery of $6.5 million in cash and digital currencies, which also has $1.6 million in cryptocurrency.

Law enforcement also seized 500 kilograms of drugs around the world, 274 kilograms of drugs in the United States, and 63 firearms.

The variety of drugs that were found within the United States included fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA, and medicine containing addictive substances.

The DOJ, through the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) team, collaborated with Europol to conduct the operation across the United States and Europe for nine months.

The announcement adds that Operation DisrupTor is built on the success of Operation SaboTor, which took place last year, as well as the coordinated law enforcement takedown of the Wall Street Market.

The Wall Street Market is one of the biggest illegal online markets found on the dark web.

In addition, the authorities also managed to identify and attribute several darknet vendor accounts to real individuals  that were selling illicit goods on Darknet market sites.

The operation also yielded 121 arrests in the United States, two in Canada at the request of the United States, 42 in Germany, eight within the Netherlands, four in the United Kingdom, three in Austria, and one in Sweden. Several investigations remain ongoing as part of their efforts to identify individuals behind the dark web accounts.

FBI Director Christopher Wray highlights that there has been a spike in opioid-related overdose deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, and that the FBI will continue their work in disrupting the global trade of illicit drugs.

Derek Benner, the ICE Acting Deputy Director, stated that it was an honor to work with law enforcement authorities in the pursuit of criminals on the Darknet.

“Our trained cyber analysts and investigators have conducted undercover efforts that target dark website operators, vendors and prolific buyers of these dangerous drugs. HSI special agents employ unique investigative capabilities to trace and identify the proceeds stemming from the distribution and online sales of fentanyl and other illicit opioids. These efforts will continue to thwart a significant amount of criminal drug sale activity and deter criminals believing they can operate with anonymity on the Darknet.”

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