On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department – as well as International law enforcement organizations including European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) — announced 228 arrests in 9 countries, and the seizure of more than a hundred guns in a “record-breaking” joint law-enforcement operation targeting fentanyl and opioid traffic on the dark web. The DOJ also said that the culmination of the operation included confiscating $53 million in cash and virtual currencies, as well as 850 kilograms of drugs that included 64 kilograms of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced narcotics.
Dubbed “Operation SpecTor” by the Justice Department, the law enforcement action was conducted by the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team, composed of multiple government agencies. Taking part in the operation: the FBI; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. postal inspectors; the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; the Internal Revenue Service; and Homeland Security. Working alongside these agencies was international law-enforcement partners in Austria, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Britain, Brazil, Poland, and Switzerland.
In a statement, the DOJ said: “Operation SpecTor was a coordinated international effort spanning three continents to disrupt fentanyl and opioid trafficking on the darknet, or dark web … The operation was conducted across the United States, Europe, and South America, and was a result of the continued partnership between JCODE and foreign law enforcement against the illegal sale of drugs and other illicit goods and services on the darknet.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the operation seized “117 firearms, 850 kilograms of drugs that include 64 kilograms of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced narcotics, and $53 million in cash and virtual currencies … Our message to criminals on the dark web is this: You can try to hide in the furthest reaches of the Internet, but the Justice Department will find you and hold you accountable for your crimes. The availably of dangerous substances like fentanyl on dark net marketplaces is helping to fuel the crisis that has claimed far too many American lives. We will continue to illuminate the dark web and we will bring to justice those who try to hide their crimes there.”
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