Enormous Darknet Bust Targeting Opioid Trafficking Result in 179 Arrests


The largest international dark web takedown targeting the dark web opioid trafficking has resulted in the arrest of 179 individuals that are spread across six of the countries, who were actively engaged in tens of thousands of illegal goods and services sales throughout the United States and Europe. The darknet bust has helped the law enforcement agencies to seize 500 kilograms of the drugs, $6.5 million in cash and as well as a certain amount of the cryptocurrencies have been confiscated. 

The enormous darknet bust was carried on under the “Operation DisrupTor” on the 22nd of September, 2020. However, this operation traces back its roots in the Wall Street Market Seizure, which was a famous underground darknet market helping in the ending of the dark web drug trade. The Wall Street Market was seized back on the 3rd of May 2019.

Operation DisrupTor made the successful seizure owing to the joint ventures of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) and Europol. The operation had been conducted all across Europe and the United States to curb opioid trafficking

The operation has fetched the law enforcement authorities the seizure of over $6.5 million in both cash and digital currencies, nearly 500 kilograms of illegal dark web drugs across the globe (includes fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methamphetamine or meth, cocaine, heroin, MDMA, ecstasy and several other medicines containing the addictive elements) in the United States and as well as 63 firearms.

Image: Forbes

The dark web drug vendor accounts had been identified and attributed to the authentic individuals who were selling the illegal goods on the darknet markets like the Dream Market, AlphaBay Market, Nightmare Market, Empire Market, Wall Street Market, DeepSea Market, White House Market, Dark Market and many others. The operation DisrupTor has been used to disrupt the dark web opioid trafficking significantly. It aims to send a strong message to the criminals stating they are not beyond the grip of law enforcement.

Out of 179 arrests, 121 of them had taken place in the United States and included two of them in Canada (as requested by the United States), 8 in the Netherlands, 4 in the United Kingdom, 42 in Germany, 1 in Sweden and 3 in Austria. However, a good number of the investigations are still on the process in the bid to identify the drug dealers who are masking behind the darknet accounts.

“Criminals selling fentanyl on the Darknet should pay attention to Operation DisrupTor,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. “The arrest of 179 of them in seven countries—with the seizure of their drug supplies and their money as well—shows that there will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace.”

“Operation DisrupTor demonstrates the ability of DEA and our partners to outpace these digital criminals in this ever-changing domain, by implementing innovative ways to identify traffickers attempting to operate anonymously and disrupt these criminal enterprises.”

“U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has played an integral role in Operation DisrupTor which has effectively removed opioids from our communities,” said ICE Acting Deputy Director Derek Benner. 

“Law enforcement is most effective when working together, and today’s announcement sends a strong message to criminals selling or buying illicit goods on the dark web: the hidden internet is no longer hidden, and your anonymous activity is not anonymous,” said Edvardas Šileris, the Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). “Law enforcement is committed to tracking down criminals, no matter where they operate – be it on the streets or behind a computer screen.”

The massive dark web drug raid against opioid trafficking had lasted for nine months and has given rise to over a couple of dozens of the federal prosecutions who are reaching out for the drug marketplaces on the dark web.

Image: CNET

It includes the following:

  • The JCODE Task Force of Los Angeles along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California had dismantled a drug trafficking organization (opioid trafficking) “Stealthgod” for selling Meth and MDMA on several dark web markets.
  • 32-years-old Arden McCann of Quebec, Canada had been charged for conspiracy to import drugs owing to opioid trafficking into the U.S. and as well as conspiring to launder money. He has been accused with four counts of the indictment returned by one of the grand juries in Atlanta of Georgia.
  • 36-years-old Khlari Sirotkin, a resident of Colorado along with Kelly Stephens (32) of Colorado, Abby Jones (37) of Nevada and Sasha Sirotkin (32) of California had been charged with the drug trafficking along with the money laundering conspiracy. The indictment received was 21-count and returned by one of the grand juries in Cincinnati of Ohio.
  • A firebomb attack plot was thwarted that involved explosives, firearms, prescription opioid trafficking, the dark web network, sophisticated money laundering and cryptocurrency. The operation was conducted by the joint venture of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the FBI Washington Field Office’s Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force.
  • 39-years-old Aaron Brewer residing in Corsicana of texas had been charged with the conspiracy for possessing with the intentions to distribute a controlled substance (drugs) along with the distribution of a controlled substance under a two-count indictment as returned by one of the grand juries in the Northern District of Texas.

The indictment and the criminal complaint only states that the crimes mentioned in it have been committed. However, the defendants are considered innocent until they are proven guilty of the crimes committed beyond any reasonable doubt presented in the court of law. In over 20 federal districts, the federal prosecutions are being conducted against the drug markets and the dark web drug dealers.

Source: DOJ

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