Oct 26, 2021 - World

DOJ: 150 people arrested in international darknet opioid probe

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.

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