The Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team announced 61 arrests today and the seizure of millions in cryptocurrency as a result of Operation SaboTor, an effort targeting international drug traffickers operating on the dark web.
J-CODE organizations include the FBI, DEA, HSI, CBP, USPIS, and DOD in the US as well as international partners during the Cyber Action Patrol Week at Europol. This is J-CODE’s second coordinated operation following last year’s Operation Disarray in which eight people were arrested.
Darkweb Strike Crumbles Empires & Seizes Crypto Fortune
J-CODE have arrested 61 people and shut down 50 darknet accounts associated with criminal activity. Law enforcement executed 65 search warrants and seized 299.5 kilograms of drugs, 51 firearms, and more than $7 million. Of the seized funds, $4.5 million was in cryptocurrency, $2.48 million in cash, and $40,000 in gold. 122 interviews took place.
The Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team is delivering results through coordinated efforts and the commitment of the nation’s law enforcement agencies to address opioid sales on the Darknet. https://t.co/mCOIToN4gn pic.twitter.com/JxtrogvUjh
— FBI Salt Lake City (@FBISaltLakeCity) March 26, 2019
FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that J-CODE is spearheading the battle against online opioid trafficking and that the darknet is heavily monitored for this reason.
“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. 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.”
DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon stated that the greatest tool at the DEA’s disposal was inter-agency collaboration, declaring the operation a success. He said that the DEA would continue collaborating to “disrupt, dismantle, and destroy drug trafficking organizations that bring poison into our communities.”
“Drug traffickers will be held accountable for the pain and death they cause, regardless of what technology they use.”
Darkweb Is Not as Dark as You Think
Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle took a different approach, addressing drug traffickers and darkweb users directly in her statement.
“The Darkweb is not as dark as you think. When you buy or sell illegal goods online, you are not hidden from law enforcement and you are putting yourself in danger. This international coordinated approach demonstrates law enforcement’s determination to tackle crime on the Darkweb and to reduce the number of people who fall victim to criminals selling life-endangering products or scamming them for their own gain.”
Last month, $400,000 in seized crypto assets were sold at a Belgian auction house following a similar operation targeting dark web drug traffickers. Drug trafficking is just one of many illicit activities facing a crackdown on the darkweb, with cryptojacking (illegal crypto mining through malware) also high on the list.