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October 26, 2021

FBI Deputy Director Paul M. Abbate’s Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Results of Operation Targeting Darknet Drug Markets

FBI Deputy Director Paul M. Abbate delivered the following remarks during a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., with partner agency officials announcing the results of this year’s Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) operation targeting dangerous drug marketplaces on the darknet. (Remarks as delivered.)

JCODE began in 2018 as a multi-agency initiative laser focused on combating the borderless, worldwide distribution of illegal drugs online. Since that time, the bottom line is this—JCODE has been relentless in finding and arresting drug dealers around the world who falsely believe they can evade justice by operating on the darknet, as well as keeping dangerous drugs—particularly counterfeit and contaminated drugs—off the streets and away from the thousands of people who fall victim every year.

Those purchasing drugs through the darknet often don’t know what they’re getting or if they’re about to get something that may contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Because of that, one of the very real impacts positively of disrupting darknet drug sales is making the U.S. and the world a safer place. As highlighted, Operation Dark HunTor has achieved a large, high-impact number of arrests and seizures, but I’d like to point out another number as well.

The CDC has published that there were over 90,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2020 alone, up more than 20,000 over the 2019 numbers. Today we’re taking some of the most dangerous, unregulated drugs off the streets of America, in addition to putting a stop to those involved in the illegal drug trade.

With that, I want to thank all the partner agencies represented here and around the world who have been part of this joint, highly collaborative effort. Preventing the use of the darknet for illicit trade requires a global, interagency, interconnected response, and this only works because of the close, cohesive relationships between the 12 JCODE agencies and our many, many, exceptional international partners.

JCODE provides structure, intelligence, and ever expanding technological capabilities toward disrupting the darknet criminal market place, neutralizing bad actors, and protecting our communities.

The FBI and our Department of Justice, JCODE, Europol, and other international law enforcement partners will continue to use all investigative resources and means to identify darknet online narcotics and dealers, wherever they attempt to hide, to ensure that they are held accountable under the law and that justice is served.