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Authorities arrest 179 in crackdown on opioid trafficking on darknet

Authorities arrest 179 in crackdown on opioid trafficking on darknet
© Department of Justice

U.S. and European authorities have arrested 179 people in a crackdown on drug and opioid trafficking on the darknet, officials announced on Tuesday.

As part of the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE), the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Operation DisrupTor resulted in authorities seizing more than $6.5 million in cash and virtual currencies and about 500 kilograms of drugs around the world. 

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in Tuesday remarks that Operation DisrupTor was the U.S.’s “largest operation to date targeting criminal activity on the Darknet.”

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“Over the past months, the United States and its partners across the globe have worked together to deal a powerful blow to this criminal underworld,” he said.

The crackdown follows after the government takedown of the Wall Street Market last year, which provided intelligence for U.S. and international law enforcement to conduct investigations to find darknet drug traffickers. 

The operation resulted in 121 arrests in the U.S. as well as two in Canada, 42 in Germany, eight in the Netherlands, four in the U.K., three in Austria and one in Sweden.

In the U.S., 274 kilograms of drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA and medicine with addictive properties, were recovered, along with 63 firearms. 

The authorities tracked darknet vendor accounts to the people selling illegal products across websites, such as AlphaBay, Dream, WallStreet, Nightmare, Empire, White House, DeepSea and Dark Market. These vendors use anonymizing software called Tor to allow them to sell illegal products without being identified. 

“Operation DisrupTor was used to significantly disrupt the online opioid trade and send a strong message that criminals operating on the Darknet are not beyond the reach of law enforcement,” DOJ said in a release. 

In his comments, Rosen said several other investigations are still ongoing.