- Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the results of Operation SpecTor, the largest international operation against darknet trafficking of fentanyl and opioids.
- The operation, led by the FBI, involved a coordinated effort among law enforcement agencies in the United States and eight other countries to disrupt drug trafficking networks operating on the dark web.
- Operation SpecTor resulted in 288 arrests, the seizure of 117 illegal firearms, 850 kilograms of drugs, and the recovery of $53.4 million in cash and cryptocurrency, marking the highest number of arrests and the largest amount of funds seized in any coordinated international action against drug traffickers on the dark web.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland delivered a speech announcing the successful outcome of the largest international operation targeting the darknet trafficking of fentanyl and opioids. The operation, named Operation SpecTor, was led by the FBI and involved a coordinated effort among law enforcement agencies in the United States and eight other countries. Its primary objective was to disrupt drug trafficking networks operating on the dark web, particularly those involved in the illegal trade of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs.
During the operation, a total of 288 arrests were made, and law enforcement seized 117 illegal firearms, 850 kilograms of drugs, and a staggering $53.4 million in cash and cryptocurrency. These results represent the highest number of arrests and the largest amount of funds seized in any coordinated international action conducted by the Department of Justice against drug traffickers on the dark web.
Attorney General Garland emphasized the Justice Department’s commitment to combating the fentanyl epidemic and holding those responsible accountable. He highlighted the growing trend of drug traffickers using the dark web to sell illegal drugs, often disguised as brand name pharmaceuticals. However, these drugs are frequently counterfeit and laced with fentanyl, posing significant risks to unsuspecting users.
Operation SpecTor was a collaborative effort involving multiple agencies across the federal government, including the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-CI, FDA, and other law enforcement partners. International cooperation was instrumental in the success of the operation, with Europol, Eurojust, and law enforcement agencies from eight foreign countries working closely with their American counterparts.
The operation’s impact was felt nationwide in the United States, with 153 defendants arrested, 104 illegal guns seized, and over 200,000 pills, including fentanyl-containing ones, confiscated. Several notable cases were highlighted as part of Operation SpecTor, such as the dismantling of a drug trafficking organization in the Central District of California involved in the production and distribution of bulk fentanyl and methamphetamine on the darknet. Additionally, the conviction of an individual in the Southern District of Florida who distributed narcotics, including fentanyl, on various dark web marketplaces, demonstrated the successful prosecution of offenders operating in this illicit domain.
Attorney General Garland expressed his gratitude to the dedicated law enforcement personnel, including agents, prosecutors, analysts, and staff from various departments and agencies, for their contributions to Operation SpecTor. He also acknowledged the vital assistance provided by partner agencies across the federal government, such as the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the FDA Office of Investigations, and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The collective efforts of these organizations exemplify the commitment to combatting darknet criminal activities and safeguarding public safety.
The Justice Department’s message to criminals operating on the dark web is clear: no matter how hidden they believe they are, the Department will pursue them relentlessly and ensure they are held accountable for their crimes. The focus on disrupting and dismantling darknet markets, coupled with international collaboration, demonstrates the determination to combat illicit activities and protect individuals, businesses, and governments from cybercrime and drug trafficking on the dark web.