WASHINGTON D.C. –– On Tuesday morning the Department of Justice announced an international collaboration that led to the arrest of more than one hundred Darknet drug traffickers in an unprecedented operation dubbed Dark HunTor.
Earlier this year, international agencies collaborated to take down DarkMarket –– the world's largest illegal marketplace on the dark web. Vendors on the marketplace traded drugs, sold counterfeit money, stolen or counterfeit credit card details, anonymous SIM cards, and malware.
"We are here today to expose those who seek the shadows of the internet to peddle killer pills worldwide," said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. "Operation Dark HunTor was launched with one clear goal: to hunt down the vendors, buyers, and suppliers who had been hiding on that site and make sure they did not find a new platform."
The investigation into the illegal operation revealed a massive enterprise with almost 500,000 users, 2,4000 sellers, and 320,000 transactions. Authorities estimate a profit of more than $162.3 million was made by traffickers.
"Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have turned to the Darknet than ever before to buy drugs," said Monaco. "Already a billion-dollar illicit drug industry, Darknet drug revenue surpassed pre-pandemic levels."
At the time, German authorities arrested the alleged operator and seized the site's infrastructure –– leading police to a plethora of drug dealers.
Working with EUROPOL, the FBI, DEA, and law enforcement agencies operating in the United States, Australia, and Europe, authorities have arrested 150 traffickers including:
- 65 in the United States
- 1 in Bulgaria
- 3 in France
- 47 in Germany
- 4 in the Netherlands
- 24 in the United Kingdom
- 4 in Italy
- 2 in Switzerland.
Through DarkHunTor, authorities seized more than $31.6 million in cash and virtual currency. More than 500 pounds were also seized during the operation including:
- 335 lbs of amphetamine
- 48 lbs of cocaine
- 59 lbs of opioids
- 71 of MDMA
This was in addition to the more than 200,000 pills of ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine pills, and counterfeit medicine, and 45 firearms.
"In the United States alone, this operation seized over 200,000 pills, 90% of which were found to contain counterfeit opioids or narcotics," said Monaco. "To put this in perspective, just two milligrams of fentanyl — a size so small it could fit on the tip of a pen — is considered a deadly dose."
“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,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “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."