U.S. and European authorities have arrested 150 people and seized more than a quarter ton of illegal drugs, in an international operation, NBC News reported.
The international operation aimed to disrupt the sale of illegal drugs on a portion of the internet called the dark web, NBC News reported.
The darknet is a network of websites that uses anonymity software to hide users’ locations. Users on darknet forums use cryptocurrency to pay for illegal goods such as drugs or services, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The European arrests were carried out in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. There were 85 arrests in Europe. There were 65 arrests in the United States, spread across 14 different states, according to NBC.
The sweep recovered more than $31 million in cash and various forms of digital cryptocurrencies, NBC News reported.
They were accused of illegally selling fentanyl, oxycodone, amphetamine, cocaine, and ecstasy. Two dark net accounts were operated in Florida and Rhode Island, which were advertising and selling fentanyl pills throughout the country, NBC News reported.
“With such operations based on information sharing, trust between partners, and international coordination, we are sending a are sending a strong message to these criminals on the dark web. No one is beyond the reach of the law, even on the dark web,” Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, deputy executive director of Europol. Europol is the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, the WSJ reported.
The #FBI today announced the results of Operation Dark HunTor. This international law enforcement effort targeted illegal drugs on the dark web, resulting in 150 arrests & seizures of more than $31Million. https://t.co/h6yBaMH4cU pic.twitter.com/vIc8H7Vo9M
— FBI Tampa (@FBITampa) October 26, 2021
“These are the drugs that are driving the overdose crisis in America, with 250 people dying each day.” Drug Enforcement Administration leader Anne Milgram said to NBC News. (RELATED: Demi Lovato Claims Her Drug Addiction Saved Her Life)
Investigators were aided by the recent takedown of DarkMarket. DarkMarket was the largest illegal marketplace on the internet. German Authorities were able to seize and shut down the site, giving investigators new information, NBC News reported.
Investigators were also concerned about by the sale of counterfeit pills laced with the potentially deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. Investigators discovered vendors running home labs creating fake tablets, the WSJ reported.
DarkNet drug sales have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, due to more people turning online to buy drugs.