150 arrested, more than $ 31 million seized in international drug trafficking sting: Department of Justice

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US and European law enforcement officials have arrested 150 people and seized more than $ 31 million in international drug trafficking investigations resulting from the sale in Darknet, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The arrests involved a 10-month investigation between federal law enforcement officials in the US and Europol in Europe. Prosecutors allege that the accused were responsible for tens of thousands of illegal sales in the US, United Kingdom, Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Investigators seized $ 31.6 million in cash and virtual currency and 45 firearms, the Justice Department said.

Investigators seized more than 152 kilograms of amphetamine, 21 kilograms of cocaine and 32.5 kilograms of MDMA along with illegal drugs, including counterfeit drugs and opioid tablets, according to prosecutors.

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Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco speaks with Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. of the Criminal Department of the Justice Department on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, in a news release at the Department of Justice in Washington. Law enforcement officials in the US and Europe arrested 150 people and seized more than $ 31 million in international drug trafficking investigations resulting from the sale of Darknet. (AP Photo / Manuel Balls Cineta)
((AP Photo / Manuel Balls Cineta)

Of the arrested persons, 65 were in the US, 47 were in Germany, 24 were in the United Kingdom, four were in Italy, four were in the Netherlands, three were in France, two were in Switzerland and one was in Bulgaria.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said darknet vendors are running fake labs to create counterfeit pills in their homes – designed to look like prescription pain pills – coated with fentanyl, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs.

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DarkNet is a part of the Internet that is hosted on an encrypted network and can only be accessed through specialized anonymity tools, especially the Tor browser.

Monaco said the campaign was specifically designed to “target drug dealers who use DarkNet to transport these drugs, such as illicit drugs and pill presses, and promote the ongoing opioid crisis that is plaguing our communities.”

The Justice Department said its investigation is ongoing and investigators are still working to identify other individuals behind the Darknet accounts.

Monaco explains that since the novel of the coronavirus epidemic began, “more people have turned to Darknet than ever before to buy drugs.”

“Before I close, I would like to address those who stay in the darknet, those who sell illegal drugs, and those who feel they are safe behind the layers of digital anonymity,” Monaco said. “My message to you is simple: there is no dark Internet. We can and we will shine a light.”

Jake Gibson of LBL contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.

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