The U.S. Department of Justice along with the Europol have announced operation DisrupTor. Working with the Joint Criminal Opioid and Dark-net Enforcement, the team made a dent in the space. Operation DisrupTor resulted in more than 179 arrests linked to the dark-net.
Law Enforcement Cooperation
The Department of Justice published a press release on the 22nd of September. It was revealed that Operation DisrupTor was ongoing for over 9 months. The release also made it clear that this operation targeted opioid trafficking internationally. If not clear, the press release also revealed that the operation purely targeted dark web operations.
The DOJ claimed the operation marked an important start in law enforcement cooperation. Both sides realized their ambitions to built a partnership. JCODE and Europol will now be working together, targeting the sale of drugs.
The press release also highlighted a few more details about the operation. The operation is seen as an extension to other successful operations that took place in 2019. The article is referring to Operation SaboTor and the shutdown of Wall Street Market.
The 2019 seizure of Wall Street Market was led by U.S. law enforcement and its global counterparts. Law enforcement successfully managed to access countless pages of sensitive information. Intelligence agencies pieced the information together and extracted data required for more investigations. This resulted in Operation DisrupTor. This operation was successful and lead to the already mentioned arrests. This is an example of how information stored online can come and bite you later on.
The arrests took place all over North America and Europe. Only 123 of the arrests have been made in North America, 121 in the U.S. and 2 in Canada. 42 have been arrested in Germany and 8 on Dutch soil. Arrests have been made in the UK, Austria, and even Sweden.
Additionally, the operation led to a large number of illegal goods. Currency, drugs and even weapons have been seized by agents. Roughly $6.5 million have been seized in both fiat and digital currency. More than half a ton of drugs have been seized. Fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and MDMA is part of the list.
It was also found that the criminals have taken part in illicit weapon trade. Such trades have been facilitated by dark-net vendor on many platforms. It was found that many had accounts on the now-defunct AlphaBay, Wallstreet, Empire, Nightmare, White House and even Deepsea.
Countless Federal Prosecutions
Operation DisrupTor has let to countless federal prosecutions over the last nine months. These prosecutions are taking place in a number of U.S. states.
The JCODE Task Force LA office apprehended five of the defendants linked to drug sales. It is said that all have many customers involved in the U.S. and across the globe. Two of them have plead guilty to drug trafficking charges. If found guilty, the men will face around 15 years in federal prison.
Arden McCann, a Canadian is also facing charges. for conspiracy to import banned substances and money laundering. Arden, had a well-constructed operation for laundering money. It is said that the 32 year old was involved in the sale of alprazolam and fentanyl derivatives.
Countless suspects are being charged elsewhere too. 36-year-old Khlari Sirotkin and 32-year-old Kelly Stephens along with Sasha Sirotkin from California. Sean Deaver and Abby Jones from Nevada along with the other named had to face a 21-count court indictment. The court alleges that the group of five are part on an online drug trafficking outfit.
The operation is also credit with the prosecution of a suspect involved in the firebomb plot. The plot involved an Empire Market vendor who happens to be a licensed pharmacist. The two suspects plead guilt to conspiracy charges. Both planned to destroy competitors.
Aaron Brewer, a 39 year old from Texas is also facing charges. The charges are conspiracy to obtain with intent to distribute a controlled substance. It is also alleged that the suspect was involved in other drug sale that took place on the dark-net.
Operation DisrupTor is one of the most successful operations hosted in recent times. This operation also sets many examples about the past coming to bite you in the future. Most of these vendors got charged months after their information was gathered. This operation also reveals a new tactic used by law enforcement to tackle the drug industry. Markets are no longer seen as a big threat but as a new easy way to gather information about drug vendors and buyers. Taking them down does reduce drug sales for a few minutes but also provides agencies tons of information.