The Justice Department announced on Tuesday that 150 people have been arrested and charged with drug trafficking and other crimes after an international operation uncovered the illegal trafficking of drugs on the darknet.
The operation, known as Operation Dark HunTor, was a joint effort between government agencies across the world, including the FBI and its colleagues in Australia and Europe. The team was focused on Darknet drug traffickers in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.
The darknet, a part of the internet that is not generally accessible, can only be reached with specific software like Tor. Because of this obscurity, the darknet is commonly used for illegal activity, especially drug trafficking.
Over $31.6 million in fiat and digital currencies and 234 kilograms of illegal drugs were taken by Law Enforcement agencies throughout the nearly year-long operation. The Justice Department said that investigators found amphetamines, cocaine, opioids, MDMA, and over 200,000 pills of ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine.
Deputy Attorney General says many drugs on the darknet are cut with dangerous substances
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Tuesday that the majority of those pills were found in the U.S., with many of them being cut with dangerous chemicals.
“We are here to expose those who seek to use the shadows of their internet to peddle killer pills worldwide,” Monaco said.
“Massive international law enforcement operation spanned across three continents and involved dozens of U.S. and international law enforcement agencies to send one clear message to those hiding on the darknet peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet,” Monaco said during the Justice Department’s announcement. “Operation Dark HunTor prevented countless lives from being lost to this dangerous trade in illicit and counterfeit drugs, because one pill can kill.”
A total of 65 Americans were arrested as a result of the operation, the majority of whom were trafficking drugs cut with potentially toxic substances.
“The point of operations such as the one today is to put criminals operating on the dark web on notice: the law enforcement community has the means and global partnerships to unmask them and hold them accountable for their illegal activities, even in areas of the dark web,” said Europol Deputy Executive Director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, who worked with Monaco on the operation.
Illegal activity on the Darkweb has spiked dramatically during the pandemic as more people flock to its drug markets in order to gain access to substances, some potentially deadly.
“They now operate in every single room, in every home that has a smartphone or a computer,” Administrator Anne Milgram said, “These are the drugs that are driving the overdose crisis in America.”