Editor’s Note: This is an op-ed essay written from the insight and experience of the author. The content expressed herein is not meant to represent any official position taken by Dark Web News.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has made it clear unethical practices on the dark web, such as the sale of fentanyl, are strengthening law enforcement’s resolve to shut down darknet market sites and arrest vendors.
As most dark web doyens know, the United States federal authorities, consisting of agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, among others conducted the nation’s largest operation against darknet dealers earlier this year.
The raids occurred on January 18, 2018, but federal authorities just announced the arrests on June 26.
The primary reason behind the raid? Fentanyl.
A report released by the Department of Justice revealed that the investigation lasted a little over a year, where agents posed as darknet money launderers.
Of course, that is a pretty broad revelation and doesn’t elude in the slightest on the exact tactics used in locating the subjects.
Observers can only assume that these 35 people, at some point, failed to stay anonymous, whether they negligently revealed their physical location by not following appropriate online security measures or agreed to meet the agents in person.
Nevertheless, Rosenstein said in the press release that law enforcement is capable of exposing their networks and that they are driven to bring them to justice.
Derek Benner, the head of Homeland Security Investigations, further added that the dark web is increasingly dynamic, thus complicating the process of targeting those selling illicit items on darknet platforms.
But in this particular case, HSI special agents managed to go undercover to investigate the vendors who sell highly addictive substances.
Benner’s words could be taken two ways:
1) Federal agents were able to navigate with ease within the dark web and gain these individuals’ trust, eventually revealing their physical location.
2) Federal agents were able to convince these individuals to meet them in person.
Whatever the meaning behind those words, it should be a reminder anyone dealing in dark web markets that this is a war of wits.
Federal authorities working throughout the globe have tech teams comprised of the brightest minds plucked from the top tech schools from around the world.
Not only that, but they are known to turn the most gifted black hat “hackers” into informants, assisting authorities in unraveling security protocols used by those operating darknet markets.
Lack of Integrity and the Fentanyl Problem
In 1957, Dapper Don (Joseph Bonanno), Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, along with other bosses and luminaries of the top Italian Mafia families, met at the Apalachin, New York home of Joseph Barbara to lay down an edict: the La Cosa Nostra will never deal in narcotics.
The Italian Mafia of the old days was most likely the smartest and most organized criminal organization of the 20th century.
And there was a logical reason for making this decision decades before President Reagan declared a “War on Drugs”—the narcotics business is fundamentally rife with drawbacks that can’t be avoided 100 percent of the time.
Even if narcotics in and of itself are not the problem, a certain percentage of those who use them lose control, become addicts and eventually cause harm to themselves or others around them.
The pharmaceutical companies have invested an untold amount of money in lobbying for the legalization of narcotics for their own gain.
And whenever gigantic, immensely powerful corporations band together to influence governmental policy towards or against something, not even the Italian Mafia can resist.
The fundamental nature of the narcotics industry ultimately breeds bloodier turf wars than any other black market business.
Even before the illicit drug market became what it was during the Nixon presidency and throughout the 1980s, as has been documented endlessly, the La Cosa Nostra had the foresight to see and understand the inherent plight surrounding the narcotics trade.
Whether that insight was through wisdom or insider knowledge of what the pharmaceuticals had in store, it doesn’t matter; what matters is that they were right.
But now we live in an age where using and dealing narcotics has become somewhat of a global culture, especially from where I come.
I grew up understanding that selling and using drugs is a personal right; a “crime” only in the eyes of those who are thoroughly brainwashed and pro-establishment.
I still hold that view. But that is for another time, another article.
Even in countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, and, the most concerning of them all, the Philippines, where drug manufacturing, trafficking, or even the possession of “large” amounts of drugs is punishable by death, it is still rampant.
This means that humans have a fundamental desire, even in the face of death, to enjoy themselves—and that’s what it’s about for most consumers of narcotics; it’s about releasing their minds from the stresses of daily life and relaxing for a moment.
But since it’s not the pharmaceuticals selling you some lab-made concoction, it’s somehow morally wrong.
You may be wondering now, “What’s your point?” My point is: the Italian Mafia didn’t want to sell drugs due to its inherent dangers; dangers that would eventually cause the entire structure to fail.
They had a valid point. But members of the Mafia did it anyway, including John Gotti, which led to his downfall.
Now you have idiots (hope you idiots are reading this) who make the environment even worse by selling crap like fentanyl and other deadly chemical substances, which is causing a crisis.
Now the governments have a powerful reason to put all of their resources and funding into continuing an unjust “war” on drugs.
The dark web started out as a place where average people could safely deal with “illicit” business and suffer less risk.
The dark web enabled them to evolve their dealings from dangerous street-level antics to a successful furtive online enterprise.
Nonetheless, as happens in every corner of the underworld, some dimwits have to come along to turn everything into a scam, cheat people, sell trade secrets to any and every Tom, Dick and Harry, and generally bring all the heat down on a perfectly good thing.
We Really Need to Tighten Up
If you’re someone who sees the internet as our last chance at freedom, then you need to take what is happening throughout the dark web seriously.
Maybe a lot of us read news headlines and think, “Thank goodness it wasn’t me who got busted.”
Or maybe you’re one of those ignorant people who say, “Must have been idiots to get busted like that.
I’m too good for all that.” Either way you chalk it up, we all need to start doing our part to clean up the dark web; begin ousting scammers, people selling no good products, and generally, anyone who is bringing harm to our sanctuary.
And that’s what the dark web is—a sanctuary for those who believe in real freedom.
Real freedom doesn’t mean child exploitation, snuff films, selling nuclear weapons or other equally evil things; freedom in the sense that I have the freedom to choose what I put in my body.
And it’s not just about narcotics; it’s also about protecting the freedom of those who live in dictatorial regimes and use it to further their fight for liberty without risk of being arrested, tortured or executed.
We must stop being complacent and start protecting what we have been given before it’s too late.