International operation leads to 150 arrests in internet opioid trafficking bust

International operation leads to 150 arrests in internet opioid trafficking bust
© U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP, File

An international law enforcement operation targeting the sale of opioids on the dark web resulted in the seizure of some $31 million in cash, 500 pounds of drugs, and the arrest of more than 150 people, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The 10-month Operation Dark HunTor spanned three continents, with FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration coordinating with Europol and Australian police.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a press conference the operation was meant to "send one clear message to those hiding on the Darknet peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet. We can and we will shine a light,” 

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Officials seized 234 kilograms (kg) of drugs worldwide including 152.1 kg of amphetamine, 21.6 kg of cocaine, 26.9 kg of opioids, 32.5 kg of MDMA, in addition to more than 200,000 ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone and methamphetamine pills, as well as counterfeit medicine and 45 firearms.

Authorities also made 65 arrests in the United States, one in Bulgaria, three in France, 47 in Germany, four in the Netherlands, 24 in the United Kingdom, four in Italy and two in Switzerland.

The effort built on another operation announced in September of last year, Operation DisrupTor, that similarly targeted online sales of illicit drugs, resulting in 179 arrests. The same law enforcement partnership earlier this year also disbanded DarkMarket, then the world's largest illegal marketplace on the dark web.