The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday (March 26) that its Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team made 61 arrests and shut down 50 darknet accounts used for illicit activity.
In a press release, the FBI said the action, part of Operation SaboTor, a coordinated international effort to stop drug trafficking organizations operating on the darknet, resulted in it executing 65 search warrants, seizing 299.5 kilograms of drugs, 51 firearms and more than $7 million. Of that, $4.5 million was in cryptocurrency, $2.48 million in cash and $40,000 in gold. The operation was conducted from Jan. 11 to March 12 of this year.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well as international partners teamed up for the initiative. The FBI said in the press release it detected and disrupted the most “prolific opioid vendors” on the darknet and dismantled their operations. It follows on the heels of a previous sting that proved successful for law enforcement.
“Law enforcement is most effective when we work together, and J-CODE is the global tip of the spear in the fight against online opioid trafficking,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the press release. “Criminals have always adopted innovations and new technologies to achieve their illicit goals, and it’s our job to adapt and remain ahead of the threat. Operation SaboTor demonstrates not only the strength of our partnerships across the U.S. government and abroad but how we’re able to capitalize on those partnerships to disrupt criminal activity, even when they try to hide it on the Darknet.”
Derek Benner, executive associate director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in the press release that Operation SaboTor sends a clear message that “nothing is beyond the reach of the law.” He went on to say that law enforcement will “use every possible means to find them, take apart their organizations, and leave them with nothing.”