The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday the arrest of 150 people who are accused of participating in international darknet opioid trafficking. In a coordinated effort between the Department of Justice’s Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) and Europol, the crackdown on the traffickers also led to the seizure of weapons, drugs and more than $31.6 million in cash and virtual currencies.
Dubbed “Operation DarkHunTor,” the 10-month effort cracked down on alleged traffickers and criminals who sold a range of illicit drugs in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Around 234 kilograms of drugs — more than 500 pounds — were seized during the initiative, including ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine pills, and counterfeit medicine. OperationDarkHunTor spanned three continents and involved dozens of U.S. and international law enforcement agencies resulting in a series of law enforcement investigations, some of which are still ongoing.
“Today, we face new and increasingly dangerous threats as drug traffickers expand into the digital world and use the Darknet to sell dangerous drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine,” Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said in a statement. “These drug traffickers are flooding the United States with deadly, fake pills, driving the U.S. overdose crisis, spurring violence, and threatening the safety and health of American communities. DEA’s message today is clear: criminal drug networks operating on the Darknet, trying to hide from law enforcement, can no longer hide. DEA, the U.S. interagency, and our valued international partners, are committed to dismantling drug networks wherever they are, including on the Darknet.”
There were 65 individuals arrested in the United States, along with 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 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,” Europol’s Deputy Executive Director of Operations Jean-Philippe Lecouffe said in a statement.