Due to the nature of illegal activities that take place on the dark web, respective government agencies around the world are working collaboratively to counter these activities before they get out of hand.
One of the most sought-after categories of products is drugs. Depending on the type, potency and dosage, the price will differ.
However, the fact that most drugs are habitual, a change in pricing will have a trivial effect on the demand and thus making sellers reap maximum profits.
For this reason, those who engage in drug trafficking have a ready market for their products.
In the United States, the government has initiated an operation dubbed Operation Disarray, which targets those involved in trafficking opiates.
Details & the Modus Operandi
In most cases, law enforcement operations start from a single location, but for Operation Disarray, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in collaboration with other security agencies, made it a nationwide initiative that covered all the 50 states within the U.S. simultaneously.
The other federal agencies involved in the operation are the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Service.
The total number of personnel drawn from each agency is not yet known, but is likely to run into hundreds.
Through effective collaboration mainly achieved through the gathering and sharing of intelligence about individuals involved in the trade. These agencies have a critical role to play in the United States because as things stand, they have been tasked with the responsibility of curbing the vice. And if they cannot completely stop it from happening, then they can at least reduce it or ensure it does not get worse.
Operation Disarray was launched in the last week of March and is part of an initiative that was started by the U.S. Department of Justice in January 2018.
The purpose of the operation is to destabilize and further disrupt the trafficking of opiates, which has become rampant as a result of the dark web.
According to the FBI website, one of the purposes of the operation is to enlighten those involved by highlighting the risk factors that they face and among them, deteriorating health for the consumers because some of the drugs are mixed with much more dangerous substances such as fentanyl.
One of the very first steps taken by the security personnel is educating the public of the dangers they face, which is a preventative effort.
Another part of Operation Disarray is also to offer brochures that contain the steps a person should take in the event of an overdose. The booklet also gives tips to help individuals overcome addiction.
As it is, the FBI continues to train more agents from different security agencies including the local authorities about how the darknet markets are being used to perpetuate the trade of illegal drugs. In order to make the operation a success, the FBI has assumed the responsibility of gathering the resources to record a victory.
Results of the Operation
So far, the authorities involved have been able to carry out arrests of those suspected to be involved. Also, searches have been conducted by the agencies involved in the processing and inspection of cargoes from different regions.
Then, some of the security personnel went door to door in search of those who are suspected to have purchased or sold goods from the dark web. This method yielded results are some had charges to answer which was based on the evidence gathered.
During the whole investigative process, the authorities were able to identify instances where people succumbed to death as a result of drug overdose.
As expected, some of the officials involved in the operation made comments and among them is to put those involved in the trade on notice.
An according to the U.S. Homeland Security website, one special agent named Chris Brest stated that the dark web is not entirely anonymous and sooner or later, people engaging in the trade will have to face the authorities.
Challenges Faced by the Operation (Writer’s Opinion)
The darknet markets host a collection of buyers and vendors from different parts of the world. So, even if Operation Disarray is successful to some extent, the federal agencies will not eliminate the crime because other parties in other parts of the world are still engaging in illegal activity.
What is likely to happen is that those involved in dark web trade in the U.S. will adopt new methods of smuggling opiates and other drugs. Alternatively, they can temporarily halt their operation until the focus cools down.
For this reason, we can note that law enforcement agencies and outlaws will continue to engage in a cat and mouse game with the users of markets on the dark web.
For illustration purposes, consider Silk Road, which was shut down by the FBI in 2013.
When the market was closed, the authorities thought that they had brought an end to the trade but what transpired is the emergence of larger markets on the dark web, such as AlphaBay.
AlphaBay alongside another market, Hansa, were brought down last year as a result of a collaborative international law enforcement effort.
And by the time AlphaBay was going down, it was estimated to be nearly ten times the size of Silk Road. The parameters involved in determining this were the customer base and statistics based on the sales and purchases of goods from the market.