The U.S. Naval Academy is at the center of a criminal investigation after certain members of the institution were found to be involved in a darknet drug ring.
Following the allegations regarding a supposed drug ring, investigations were launched by the Navy and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) to determine several factors, namely how the drugs entered the academy, the number of persons involved and how long the drug ring has been in existence.
Reportedly, a senior USNA naval officer states that approximately 10 midshipmen were found to be involved in the drug ring. They allegedly sourced the drugs from the dark web and distributed the supply to their peers.
The number of persons linked to the drug ring could be higher, but as the event continues to unfold, more information will be available as the matter is in public domain.
Some students, who agreed to speak to the press on the condition of anonymity, divulged more information as to what was happening inside the training facility.
As of now, three persons have been accused of using digital currencies—particularly Bitcoin—to buy drugs from an unnamed darknet market. The drugs purchased from the hidden site include LSD, ketamine and cocaine.
It is possible that there may be more purchases in this case, since the dark web offers a wide range of listings other than drugs.
Despite the evidence that indicates the students bought illegal drugs online, none of the three individuals have faced any legal proceedings. However, investigations targeting more students are expected to continue.
Even though it is evident that the drugs were bought off the dark web, is still unclear which darknet market was used by the students to purchase the drugs, as details surrounding the case remain scarce.
The incident came to light after an unnamed midshipman notified USNA authorities of the activity.
Actions Taken by the Academy
The matter is so severe that all individuals undergoing training at the USNA had to undergo a mandatory drug test to determine if they took part in the alleged drug use.
In normal circumstances, whenever academy-wide drug testing is planned, the senior midshipmen are given a heads-up the previous night.
Typically, the midshipmen are divided into groups of about 150 until every person in a given group is tested.
In this case, though, it was Captain Robert B. Chadwick, second in command, who ordered the mandatory drug test to the more than 4,500 students in the academy.
USNA leadership personnel also requested for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to bring in sniffer dogs to conduct thorough searches of the individuals suspected to be consuming the drugs.
It was at this point that a supply of cocaine was discovered in a particular room.
Following the discovery, the midshipman in question was engaging in extracurricular activities at the time of the search. After hearing about the incident, the suspect attempted to run away but was apprehended shortly after.
Other Similar Situations
This is not the first time that the USNA has experienced similar issues. Between the years 2010 and 2017, seven midshipmen were dismissed from the academy after authorities found them in possession of illegal drugs.
In 2001, a similar event happened at the U.S. Air Academy.
At that time, LSD and ecstasy were being consumed and distributed throughout the institution.
The scandal resulted in the dismissal of some senior cadets who ended up facing sentences in a military prison. Based on the charges, different penalties were given to the individuals.
Given the fact that these service academies train persons for future high-level military operations, authorities maintain it is essential that measures are taken to ensure that any drug-related activity is to be dealt with immediately.
Drugs are Easily Accessible on Dark Web
As expected, there is always a small fraction of persons who can bypass specific security checks and smuggle various types of drugs bought off darknet markets into their workstations or training facilities.
According to researchers who study darknet markets, it is evident that drugs are the most sought-after goods being sold on the dark web.
Other items commonly listed for sale include hacking services, stolen credit cards and counterfeit products, just to mention a few.
For this reason, law enforcement agencies from across the globe continue to engage in a cat and mouse game with those who run darknet markets.
For example, after a site is shut down by authorities, someone or a group of persons will begin developing another market in due time.
It is a practice that has been going on ever since the seizure of Silk Road, one of the most notorious darknet markets in history.
Only time will tell if this trend continues and if more students in federal naval academies find themselves involved in the darknet drug trade.