A collaborative investigative operation involving the United States (US) Department of Justice (DOJ), Special Agents of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the US Security Service (USSS), the the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has resulted in the confiscation of weaponry and well over $20 million worth of bitcoin from persons who trade in illegal goods on the Darknet.
Special Agents of HSI embarked on an undercover operation that required that they disguise themselves on Darknet market websites as money launderers. In time, while engaged in the exchange of US dollars for virtual currency, these state-backed special agents were able to identify vendors of illicit products.
In an announcement by the DOJ, the state department noted that the tireless efforts of Special Agents, working in conjunction with the Department of Justice on this case eventually resulted in the confiscation of a couple of items including cryptocurrency mining devices, narcotics, weapons, close to 2,000 bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies worth over $20 million, $3.6 million in gold bars and US currency.
In reaction to the success chalked by the bodies that collaborated in this operation, the Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein is reported to have stated: “Criminals who think that they are safe on the Darknet are wrong.” Rosenstein added: “We can expose their networks, and we are determined to bring them to justice. Today, we arrested more than 35 alleged Darknet vendors. We seized their weapons, their drugs, and $23.6 million of their ill-gotten gains.”
The deputy attorney general further explained what the next move of the agency will entail, emphasizing that the state is determined to carry out a nation-wide crackdown on illegal product vendors. He asserted that appropriate measures will be deployed that will ensure that the supply of drugs is cut off akin to the lethal fentanyl that is allegedly “killing an unprecedented number of Americans.” Doctors have stated that an amount of fentanyl as “small as a grain of sand can kill an adult.”
The Executive Associate Director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Derek Benner has noted that a major challenge the relevant authorities continually have to contend with in their bid to track illicit vendors on the Darknet is that the platform is constantly changing. He stated: “The Darknet is ever-changing and increasingly more intricate, making locating and targeting those selling illicit items on this platform more complicated.”
He expressed his excitement, stating that the “veil has been lifted” and that today’s bust shows that “every criminal is within arm’s reach of the law.” Through this operation, New York office of the HSI were motivated and armed with the relevant information to open over 90 active cases across the length and breadth of the US which culminated in the detention of more than 35 Darknet vendors.
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