As each day passes, approximately 115 people within the United States die immediately following an overdose on opioids.
Staggering statistics like this one are increasingly drawing substantial political attention.
The abuse of, and inability to quit opioids—incorporating prescription painkillers, heroin and different synthetic opioids—is a dangerous national crisis that takes a toll on public health, and does not exclude social and economic capacities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the sum economic blow that prescription opioid misuse solely in the U.S. costs a whopping $78.5 billion per year toward healthcare, addiction therapy, criminal justice work, etc.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Proposal for Handling the Opioid Crisis
Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came out with a proposal to change the national drug policy by restricting the amount of opioids that particular drug companies can produce every year, as an attempt to put a stop to what we can labeled a serious problem for the nation.
This proposal was given following Sessions’ announcement of a new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit last August, which aims to enhance data analysis for the identification of drugs.
As noted back in 2016, around 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, which was a massive 21 percent increase from the year before.
Following Sessions’ proposal, the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is responsible for determining opioid production limits, would have the jurisdiction to slow down a company’s opioid production in the case of officials believing the drugs are being rerouted for a different and potentially harmful use.
J-CODE Team Tackles Darknet Markets
More so, Sessions wholeheartedly supported the new J-CODE team (Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement) that will predominantly concentrate on the illegal production and sale of opioids on darknet markets.
For that occasion, Sessions remarked within the official J-CODE announcement that criminals presume that they are well guarded by the dark web, which will end up being their ultimate downfall.
He afterward mentioned that the taskforce has already succeeded in penetrating their networks and is incredibly willing to bring them to justice.
Sessions finished up by saying that the J-CODE team will help the government to permanently shut down the dark web drug-dealing sites.
Institutions Responsible for the Success of Operation Disarray
On top of that, the Department of Justice disclosed that the DEA has made a deal with 48 attorneys general to make the database that monitors the move of painkillers from manufacturer to distribution point transparent, in order to be of help for those investigating the case.
The concept is that states will hand over to the DEA information derived from their prescription-monitoring facilities, which accumulate the data for the prescriptions that doctors write for their patients.
The Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System, the DEA’s database, has been strictly confidential thus far, but a thorough analysis of the provided database revealed concerning results.
It is safe to say that Sessions’ remarks and devotion to this issue has triggered a series of events that ended up being a nationwide law enforcement action against those involved in trafficking opiates via the dark web.
The nationwide action against those buying and selling illegal opiates has ended up in several hundred arrests of people who thought that their veil of anonymity in their illegal operations would protect them for good.
Operation Disarray commenced by the end of March and is part of an initiative that began with the DoJ back in January of this year.
The FBI-orchestrated enforcement action to try and stop the sale of opioids online was the first such operation to happen parallelly in every state.
Additionally, the FBI was not alone in that. The Customs and Border Protection, the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service were also responsible for the successful operation thus far.
They’ve all collaboratively went through with searches, arrested many and conducted investigative interviews with 160 individuals busted for buying or selling drugs via the virtual marketplaces. Breakthroughs from the investigation revealed 19 overdose deaths of persons of interest.
The Additional Effects of Operation Disarray
The aim of Operation Disarray, as expressed by one special agent who participated in the action from FBI headquarters, is to let drug traffickers know that law enforcement is not in the dark when people buy and sell drugs online.
Dark web marketplaces do not appear any different than legitimate e-commerce sites, accompanied with shopping carts, plenty of product options, sales promotions and customer reviews.
However, the darknet sites’ drop-down menus send customers to a myriad of illegal drugs.
These markets can be reached via a type of software that’s designed to keep the buyer and seller anonymous.
People that use drugs all around the world can purchase narcotics comfortably from their computers and dodge the traditional tête-à-tête exchange.
The virtual realm has taken over the drug market and surely it had a massive impact on the drug crisis in the first place, the same agent noted.
As noted by another agent who specializes in darknet investigations, that kind of liberal access to illegal drugs can worsen anyone’s addiction due to the fact the drugs are fairly easy to reach.
Namely, those selling opiates infused with fentanyl, for example, have ended up in causing deadly overdoses all over the nation. Being easy to enter the market as a trafficker with merely owning a computer has not been hopeful, as well.
Furthermore, this operation was orchestrated to shed a light on those risks for buyers and sellers in the hopes that it might scare them off from selling/buying on the dark web.
As seen on the FBI website—among the other aims of the operation—was the informing of those involved by stressing the risk elements that they face and through them, destroying the health of the consumers because some of the drugs are far from their pure form.
The education does not stop there. Within the initial moves taken by the security personnel is the education of the public in regard to the risk they face, which is a form of a preventative measure.
Operation Disarray does that by handing out brochures that contain the moves a person should make in case of an overdose. Those same materials contain further support with a step-by-step guide to overcoming addiction.
Is the Virtual Realm the Only Thriving Grounds for the Opioid Crisis?
However, the fight against the opioid crisis does not end in the virtual realm.
Namely, the detractors of law enforcement programs such as J-CODE allege that the recent dark web takedowns are somewhat of a distraction from an additional issue in regard to opioids.
They say the legal availability of opioids as prescription drugs is a major issue that carries on the ability for the U.S. drug crisis to thrive.
As recently as this month, Sessions remarked that doctors are prescribing too many opioids—which was the same day that the DoJ indicted five doctors working at opioid addiction treatment centers in Pennsylvania.
They were charged with illegal distribution of controlled substances, on top of healthcare fraud.
Last, but not least, the dedication of the FBI can be seen in their effort to train additional agents from numerous security agencies (incorporating the local police) about how the dark web markets are being used to go through the trade of illegal drugs. If they wish for the success of the operation to continue, the FBI has taken over the responsibility of gathering the resources.
With the present and future actions deriving from Session’s initiative, it is almost certain that the government will simultaneously gain support from the public as a by-product of the job the whole Operation’s task force is doing for public health and the obliteration of the opioid crisis.
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