This week, the DEA and Justice Department announced that they have arrested 179 people and seized more than $6.5 million as a result of an international investigation targeted suspected opioid traffickers who use the “Darknet” for trafficking. The name of the investigation is Operation DisrupTor and was coordinated with European law enforcement teams. Of the people arrested, 121 were in the United States, 2 in Canada, 42 in Germany, 8 in Netherlands, 4 in the United Kingdom, 3 in Australia, and 1 in Sweden. Extradition is likely underway.
The charges will likely involve federal drug conspiracy charges, potential computer crimes, and other federal crimes, with individuals being accused of selling fentanyl and other opioids through the Darknet. The Darknet is a network system on the internet that can only be accessed with special software or authorization, and it has several tools that allow users to access the network, access content, and communicate with other users anonymously.
Use of the Darknet has grown significantly in recent years, and not every transaction is illegal. The encrypted network also allows users to to obtain and transfer files anonymously, creating potential issues in the government’s cases, especially regarding identification. The large sums of money seized also signal potential charges for money laundering, which are brought when individuals use funds obtained from illegal activities and try to make it look like money obtained from legitimate sources, possibly through Darknet transactions.
Click here to read the DEA’s press release.