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U.S. deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco (right) and Europol deputy executive director Jean-Phillipe-Lecouffe (left) speak about Operation Dark HunTor. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some 15o people were arrested worldwide and more than $31.6 million in cash and virtual currencies were seized during a 10-month international investigation into opioid trafficking through darknet marketplaces, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The massive probe, called "Operation Dark HunTor," spanned three continents and led to the recovery of about 234 kilograms (over 500 pounds) of illegal drugs, including enough fentanyl to cause more than 4 million lethal doses, according to deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco.

  • A darknet is encrypted online content that can only be accessed with specific browsers and is primarily used to purchase or sell illegal goods or services, especially illegal drugs.

By the numbers: 65 people were arrested in the United States, 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.

  • Prosecutors allege the suspects were responsible for tens of thousands of illegal sales across the U.S., Europe and Australia.
  • Law enforcement agencies confiscated several kilos of amphetamine, cocaine, opioids and MDMA, more than 200,000 ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone and methamphetamine pills and 45 firearms, according to the DOJ.
  • Several investigations are still ongoing, the Justice Department said.

What they're saying: “This 10-month 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.

  • “Operation Dark HunTor prevented countless lives from being lost to this dangerous trade in illicit and counterfeit drugs, because one pill can kill. The Department of Justice with our international partners will continue to crack down on lethal counterfeit opioids purchased on the Darknet," she added.

Go deeper: U.S. sees record high of 96,000 drug overdose deaths in 12 month period

Go deeper

Nov 18, 2021 - Podcasts

Drug overdose deaths hit a new record

More than 100,000 people died of an overdose in the 12-month period ending in April of this year, according to CDC data.

  • Plus, the House issues a rare censure of a Republican lawmaker.
  • And, a debate in Washington over who authorizes military force.

Guests: Andrew Kolodny, medical director for opioid policy research at Brandeis University and Axios' Glen Johnson and Alayna Treene.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Julia Redpath, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Alex Sugiura, Sabeena Singhani, Lydia McMullen-Laird, David Toledo and Jayk Cherry. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

JPMorgan: "Full global recovery" in 2022

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase Global Research says in a forecast to clients: "2022 will be the year of a full global recovery, an end of the global pandemic, and a return to normal conditions we had prior to the COVID-19 outbreak."

The big picture: The bullish report sees "a return of global mobility, and a release of pent-up demand from consumers (e.g. travel, services)."

Inside Trump's hunt for "disloyal" Republicans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Donald Trump and his associates are systematically reshaping the Republican Party, working to install hand-picked loyalists across federal and state governments and destroy those he feels have been disloyal, sources close to the former president tell Axios.

Why it matters: If most or all of Trump’s candidates win, he will go into the 2024 election cycle with far more people willing to do his bidding who run the elections in key states.

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