DOJ: International crackdown on opioid trafficking results in 150 arrests

President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a press release Tuesday that authorities had taken some 150 fugitives into custody following an international operation targeting “opioid traffickers on the darknet.”

Known as Operation Dark HunTor, the DOJ described the mission as a “coordinated” effort “to disrupt opioid trafficking” and prevent “the illegal sale of drugs and other illicit goods and services” on the so-called darknet.

The operation spanned the U.S., Europe, and Australia, the DOJ said, and included law enforcement agencies including the federal Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) team and Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre.

“We will shine a light”

In its statement, the Justice Department said “Operation Dark HunTor resulted in the seizure of over $31.6 million in both cash and virtual currencies; approximately 234 kilograms (kg) of drugs worldwide including 152.1 kg of amphetamine, 21.6 kg of cocaine, 26.9 kg of opioids, 32.5 kg of MDMA, in addition to more than 200,000 ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine pills, and counterfeit medicine; and 45 firearms.”

The DOJ said of the 150 arrests, 65 were made in the U.S. “A number of investigations are still ongoing,” the department said.

In its release, the DOJ cited Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who said she hopes the operation will shine a light on those who peddle illicit substances on the dark internet.

“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. We can and we will shine a light,” 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.

A team effort

FBI Director Christopher Wray also issued remarks.

“The FBI continues to identify and bring to justice drug dealers who believe they can hide their illegal activity through the darknet,” Wray said, according to the DOJ’s release.

“Criminal darknet markets exist so drug dealers can profit at the expense of others’ safety. The FBI is committed to working with our JCODE and EUROPOL law enforcement partners to disrupt those markets and the borderless, worldwide trade in illicit drugs they enable,” he added.

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