J-CODE, a team working against online drug trafficking, recently arrested 61 individuals in connection with opioid trade on the dark web.
J-CODE (or Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement) coordinated its operation, which it named SaboTor, internationally.
The name of the crackdown derives from the words “sabotage” and “Tor,” which provides access to the dark web.
SaboTor is the second coordinated operation by J-CODE following the success of Operation Disarray, conducted in early 2018.
As Dark Web News reported last week, the announcement of the SaboTor arrests came right as Dream Market—one of the top markets on the dark web—released the news that it would be shutting down April 30.
Though no official connection has been made between these two events, the darknet community is concerned about a possible law enforcement takeover.
You can follow along with our coverage of the Dream story here.
Operation SaboTor Results
Operation SaboTor was responsible for the arrest of 61 suspects and the closure of 50 darknet accounts for conducting illegal activity.
The team conducted 122 interviews and acquired 65 search warrants during its investigations.
The investigating team confiscated about 299.5 kilograms of drugs, 51 weapons and over $7 million—$4.5 million of the money they seized was in cryptocurrency.
The suspects also held $2.48 million in cash and $40,000 in the form of gold.
#ICYMI: Building on the success of last year’s Operation Disarray, this week, J-CODE announced 61 arrests in its 2nd coordinated law enforcement operation, Operation SaboTor, targeting opioid trafficking on the Darknet. https://t.co/iZUjHO3wno pic.twitter.com/wjFyrw9s7i
— FBI (@FBI) March 30, 2019
Operation SaboTor entailed several joint operations between different law enforcement agencies all over the world.
These operations had a common goal of eradicating the opioid epidemic that has struck nations around the world.
Some of the law enforcement agencies in the U.S. that joined the operation include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Justice and Defense departments as well as the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
International partners through Europol aided these agencies.
Operation SaboTor took place between January and March 2019. The agencies pooled resources to make the operation a success.
They managed to identify and disorient opioid dealers and groups that facilitated these sales.
J-CODE’s Strategy and Operations
Since its establishment in early 2018, J-CODE is proving to be a headache to individuals who have been using the dark web to perpetrate drug sales.
Before the team’s establishment, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and other parts of the world had a difficult time dealing with criminals whose use of technology almost left them undefeated.
Dark web users opened more accounts each time the authorities closed one of them.
However, Operation SaboTor’s closure of 50 accounts at the same time sends a strong message to darknet vendors and buyers.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a news release that the agencies were working to keep the dark web crimes under control even with the users’ constant efforts to come up with innovations to keep their illicit businesses going.
Through Operation SaboTor, the law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and other parts of the world have proven the strength of their partnerships.
Wray further stated that cooperating with multiple agencies has helped in fighting criminal activity on the darknet.
Furthermore, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Executive Director Derek Benner, the collaboration between Homeland Security Investigations and other law enforcement agencies sends a message that the U.S. will not condone crime on the dark web.
Catherine De Bolle, the executive director of Europol, added in a statement that law enforcement is capable of tracking down buyers and sellers on the dark web.
She warned its users that using the darknet for the purchase or sale of illegal goods puts them in danger.
As a result, more arrests are made and more users are increasing their efforts to stay secure and anonymous on the dark web.
Other Roles of J-CODE
J-CODE concerns itself with more than just identifying and apprehending suspects on the dark web. The group has also been working on educating the public on the risks of opioids.
The J-CODE unit locates drug buyers and tries to talk to them about addiction and treatment. However, sometimes the law enforcement agencies arrive too late when some of the buyers have already died from an overdose.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 68 percent of all overdose deaths involve opioids.
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