US Law Enforcement Seize $1.6M in Crypto From Darknet Narcotics Vendors

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In Brief
  • U.S. authorities seized $6.5 million in cash and crypto from suspected online drug traffickers.

  • Operation DisrupTor makes 179 arrests, recovering illegal weapons and drugs stash.

  • Governments continue to commit resources to developing robust crypto tracking tools.

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United States law enforcement has disrupted another darknet drug trafficking ring, recovering illegal narcotics, firearms, and millions of dollars in crypto and cash.

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Cryptocurrencies remain a popular payment method on the dark web for illicit drugs and other controlled goods. However, advanced blockchain forensic tools are making it possible for government agencies to crack down on such activities.

Operation DisrupTor Nabs 179 Darknet Drug Traffickers

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) on Sept.22 released a communique detailing the results from its Operation DisrupTor program. According to the press release, the investigation yielded the arrest of 179 suspected drug traffickers and the recovery of $6.5 million in cash and digital currencies, which includes $1.6 million in cryptocurrency.

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Operator DisrupTor, a collaboration between the DoJ’s Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement division and Europol is a continuation of SaboTor, another narcotics crackdown effort that famously led to the “WallStreet” darknet market takedown of 2019.

Apart from the recovered sum, the team also seized firearms and 500 kilos of illicit drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and oxycodone, among others. The arrests are part of a sweeping law enforcement action against the opioid crisis in America.

The Use of Crypto in Illegal Activities

As reported by BeInCrypto on several occasions, law enforcement agencies in countries across the world continue to clampdown on the use of cryptocurrencies for illegal activities. Back in August, BeInCrypto published an analysis detailing the measures taken by various governments to upscale their blockchain forensics protocols.

That same month, the DoJ announced the arrest of two darknet opioid vendors couriering illicit drugs via the U.S. Postal system and using Bitcoin (BTC) and wire transfer for laundering the proceeds of the illegal enterprise.

While the industry faces regulatory scrutiny across the world, crypto continued to be associated with illegal activity, albeit not exclusively. Indeed, the early days of the Bitcoin movement contain associations with darknet marketplaces.

Back in June 2010, a Bitcointalk user with the moniker “teppy” argued for the creation of an online store for heroin, hosted on the dark web. The famed Silk Road darknet market place emerged less than a year later and would go on to process $200 million worth of illegal goods paid for mostly in Bitcoin.

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Osato is a reporter at BeInCrypto and Bitcoin believer based in Lagos, Nigeria. When not immersed in the daily happenings in the crypto scene, he can be found watching historical documentaries or trying to beat his Scrabble high score.

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