28 Jun Feds bust 35 Darknet criminals, seize $22M in cryptocurrency, weapons, drugs
On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice and four other federal agencies charged 35 individuals with tens of thousands of sales of illegal goods and drugs online using the Darknet.
The charges followed a year-long undercover operation targeting individuals and Darknet vendors as well as the seizure of nearly 2,000 bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies worth more than $22 million, computers and bitcoin mining equipment.
Also included in the seizure of illegal goods and proceeds of crime were:
- massive amounts of illegal narcotics, including 333 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids, over 100,000 tramadol pills, 100 grams of fentanyl, more than 24 kilograms of Xanax, and additional seizures of Oxycodone, MDMA, cocaine, LSD, marijuana, and a psychedelic mushroom grow found in a residence;
- more than 100 firearms, including handguns, assault rifles, and a grenade launcher;
- five vehicles purchased with illicit proceeds and/or used to facilitate criminal activity;
- more than $3.6 million in US currency and gold bars; and
- confiscation of 15 pill presses used to create illegal synthetic opioids.
Operation included DOJ, USPS, HIS, USSS, DEA
Included in the nationwide investigation were officials from the Department of Justice, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), US Secret Service (USSS), US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Ninety cases were investigated across the US involving 40 US attorneys’ offices resulting in federal charges against 35 individuals in more than 50 districts including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, California, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and more.
“Criminals who think that they are safe on the Darknet are wrong,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “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. This nationwide enforcement effort will reduce the supply of deadly drugs like fentanyl that are killing an unprecedented number of Americans.”
Cryptocurrency used to launder money
The US Secret Service focused in particular on money laundering using cryptocurrency.
In Ohio, two criminals laundered proceeds of crime using bitcoin, Ethereum and Komodo and cryptocurrency worth $437,000 was seized. Two Maryland residents had more than 4,000 bitcoins seized with the value estimated at more than $22 million.
Darknet sites used for crime
The Darknet sites used to sell drugs and other illegal goods included Silk Road 2, AlphaBay, HANSA, Trade Route, Wall Street Market, and Dream Marketplace.
“The Secret Service is proud to work with our law enforcement partners to help combat one of the largest threats to the U.S. financial infrastructure, money laundering with virtual currency,” said U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director Kenneth Jenkins. “The Secret Service continues to adapt along with these cybercriminals to maintain our level of success in stopping them.”
The DOJ-led investigation continues with more criminal charges expected.