Department of Justice announces largest international seizure of drugs, gun, and cash in darknet history

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WASHINGTON D.C. – The Department of Justice just announced its largest international seizure of online drugs in U.S. darknet history, resulting in 179 arrests, and the seizure of more than $6.5 million in cash and currency.

According to reports, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and other law enforcement partners seized approximately 500 kilograms of drugs worldwide, 274 kilograms of which were recovered in the United States. 

Included in the seized drugs were fentanyl, oxycodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA, and hydrocodone.

Agents also seized 63 illegal firearms. According to the DOJ news release, darknet market sites are sites such as AlphaBay, Dream, WallStreet, Nightmare, Empire, White House, DeepSea, Dark Market, and others.

Operation DisrupTor led to 121 arrests in the United States including two in Canada, 42 in Germany, eight in the Netherlands, four in the United Kingdom, three in Austria, and one in Sweden. Attorney General Rosen said in a statement:

“Criminals selling fentanyl on the Darknet should pay attention to Operation DisrupTor. 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 began nine months ago and spanned the United States and Europe. It comes more than a year after officials took down the “Wall Street Market,” which is was believed to be one of the largest illegal online marketplaces on the darknet.

FBI Director Wray said in a statement:

“With the spike in opioid-related overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that today’s announcement is important and timely.

The FBI wants to assure the American public and the world that we are committed to identifying Darknet drug dealers and bringing them to justice.”

He added:

“But, our work does not end with today’s announcement. The FBI, through JCODE and our partnership with Europol, continues to be actively engaged in a combined effort to disrupt the borderless, worldwide trade of illicit drugs.

The FBI will continue to use all investigative techniques and tools to identify and prosecute Darknet opioid dealers, wherever they may be located.”

Rosen added:

“Today’s announcement is very much a success story in international law enforcement cooperation, as crime on the Darknet is truly a global problem that requires global partnership.

However, the global nature of the threat also means that foreign countries who fail to act can easily become safe harbors for criminals who seek to pump lethal, addictive drugs into the United States from abroad.

The Department cannot and will not allow criminals to operate with impunity.”

FBI Director Wray said that the darknet is a “perfect storm” of traditional crime and cyber crime. Acting Drug Enforcement Administration head Tim Shea said many of the drugs are coming from Mexico.

Shea said in a statement:

“At the same time, we’ve seen an increase in fentanyl deaths and that’s synthetic opioids, which is a major threat emanating from Mexico.

Drugs produced on industrial scale in Mexico are shipped to the United States using the dark-web.”

He added:

“The 21st century has ushered in a tidal wave of technological advances that have changed the way we live, but as technology has evolved, so too have the tactics of drug traffickers.

Riding the wave of technological advances, criminals attempt to further hide their activities within the dark web through virtual private networks and tails, presenting new challenges to law enforcement in the enduring battle against illegal drugs”

Shea concluded:

“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.”

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Here is another article from Law Enforcement Today about federal government and local law enforcement efforts in seizing illegal drugs:

Phoenix, AZ – What border crisis?  Oh yeah …. this one.

Methamphetamine has led to the arrest of hundreds in the U.S. as the DOJ tries to stop the dangerous drug cartels from drug trafficking.

Attorney General William P. Barr and Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea announced the results of Operation Crystal Shield.

This is the DEA’s six-month-long effort to stop the Mexican cartels that operate in and around major meth “transportation hubs” in the United States.

Operation Crystal Shield generated a total of more than 750 investigations. This helped gain nearly 1,840 arrests.  Nationwide, they got 28,560 pounds of meth, $43.3 million in drug proceeds, and 284 firearms.

Mexican cartels that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of meth trafficked throughout the United States. From the Fiscal Year 2017 to Fiscal Year 2019, DEA domestic seizures of the drug increased 127 percent. It went from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds. The number of DEA arrests related to meth increased by nearly 20 percent in that same amount of time.

Shea said that as the COVID-19 shut down businesses, those that worked in the drug trade didn’t get a day off. Fox 10 TV reported Shea’s praise of the operation:

“The success of Operation Crystal Shield reflects the devotion of DEA and our partners to protect our communities from the scourge of drug trafficking and violent crime under any circumstances.”

Drug Enforcement Agents in the New Orleans Field Office have taken people into custody from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama. The result of the DEA agents work in New Orleans were 115 investigations.

This is 15 percent of the arrests made nationally. These led to 411 arrests, or 22 percent of the arrests nationwide. They seized 2.5 percent of the nationwide total with 723 pounds of meth, $4 million in drug money, or nearly 10 percent, and 23 firearms.

Brad Byerley, the Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Field Office of the Drug

Enforcement Administration told WWLTV:

“We’re targeting, and we’re going after the Mexican cartels that are benefiting from the methamphetamine trade.”

He compared the drugs, particularly meth, to poisons that cause harm to the community. The practice of drug trafficking is the primary cause of violence in the United States. The focus was on drug dealers. They sell drugs and commit to acts of violence. They intimidate and destroy places they go.

Byerly puts it in the simplest way possible:

“These people that are making these drugs, they don’t care about human life. They don’t care about you or I. They care about one thing: profit margin.”

But the law enforcement counterparts, the Federal, State and Local groups worked to get into the nation’s hubs and the distribution networks.  Together, 9 major meth hubs were identified that made up 75 percent of meth the DEA seized in 2019.

These were Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego and St. Louis. From the big cities, the drug traffickers spread it out to the smaller cities. They aren’t stopping though.

Atlanta:

They did spread it throughout the nation, even getting to Oklahoma City, were several busts were made, according to KOCO 5 News.

Eduardo Chavez, DEA special agent in charge of the Dallas Field Division.

“Overall as a division, which includes parts of North Texas, we were able to seize over 9,600 pounds of methamphetamine, take those off the streets, arrested over 300 people and seized well over 140 weapons.”

One of the major hubs is also Oklahoma. The DEA offices wanted to examine the transportation networks to put those drug dealers out of business.

The drug busts totaled more than $8 million, or a little over 18 percent between Oklahoma and Texas. Chavez continued:

“Drug trafficking is, a lot of times, just fueled by greed. And for us to take this amount of money from them, it really says a lot.”

In southern California Federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Division also cracked down on the Mexican Cartels. The DEA officer’s jurisdiction includes Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.

According to Fox LA they conducted 16 investigations or 2 percent of the national number, captured 34 suspects or 1.8 percent, seized 5,752 of pounds or 5 percent of meth, $15,968,411 or 36 percent in drug proceeds and three firearms.

Bill Bodner, special agent in charge of the agency’s Los Angeles-area division told Fox L.A.

“Los Angeles is a major transshipment hub for drug traffickers and virtually all methamphetamine in the U.S. comes through major ports of entry along the Southwest Border, which in turn has a deadly impact here in our communities because of our close proximity to the border.

Though there are some that claim that meth is not a bad drug, there is a lot of people that would readily dismiss that claim according to Drug Free World.

The long-range damage can really mess the body up to the point where it can’t recover. Some things that can happen are increased heart rate, high blood pressure, stroke, liver and kidney damage. Memory loss is another thing people struggle with and they have extreme mood swings.

The short-term effects are loss of appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, erratic and violent behavior, hallucinations, psychosis and seizers. Perhaps the most immediate effect is death from high doses. Death is not the effect most people wish to have.

Plus, you don’t want to look like a permanent Halloween fixture: 

In the United States,  according to Addiction Center about 774,000 Americans are regular meth addicts. About 16,000 are between 12 and 17. 

In 2017, nearly 10,000 Americans who regularly used meth overdosed. Almost 964,000 are addicted to meth, and in 2017 there were 195,000 who were introduced to it and tried it for the first time.  

Byerly agrees with the observation that life is something we strive for:

“I believe if we’ve kept one person from overdosing, if we’ve kept one person from getting shot, hey, we’ve accomplished our mission.”

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