FBI and Partners Target Online Drug Markets

An international law enforcement effort targeting illegal drugs on the dark web resulted in 150 arrests and seizures of more than $31 million in 2021. This footage is from multiple search operations that included the FBI, federal agency partners, and local police.

Video Transcript

IRS special agent: It’s a low-risk warrant. It deals with a vendor on the dark web who sold pressed Adderall, Xanax, marijuana, LSD, ecstasy.

There’s a strong possibility that there will be drugs present on site.

The primary objective of this operation is to safely execute the search and arrest warrant, is to seize any illegal narcotics and illegal contraband.

The primary goal is safety. So just control the area. Like I said, hopefully call them out and we’ll do out search. If not we’ll have to do our breach. And then as we encounter people, pass them back and keep clearing the residence.

Benjamin Inman, special agent, JCODE team: When you're looking at these marketplaces, there's the perception that they're professional marketplace sites that we would traditionally use in our everyday lives to purchase goods or services.

In actual occurrence, these are professionally developed sites. But, on the backend, which the user can't see, because they're designed to be anonymous, is that the drugs you're actually purchasing may not be what you actually think you're purchasing. These drugs are manufactured in basements, in people's houses, by people that are not chemists. They have no background in pharmaceuticals. So, every time you're making a purchase via these online darknet marketplaces, you don't know what you're going to get.

And that's important for actual the public to understand is that, while on face value, they appear to be very legitimate and professional sites, you could be getting a potentially lethal overdose in one pill, just by the structure or how they're made and how they're distributed. And, you don't have that interaction with, let's say, a pharmacist or a doctor prescribing. You're obtaining something that is potentially fatal.

So, this operation was targeting an organized crime group that was selling illicit narcotics on various darknet marketplace sites. Through the course of investigation, JCODE would leverage intelligence from all the collective agencies that are our partners, combining that into a targeting package to send leads out to the field for investigations.

In this case that occurred, we were able to provide a target package on these darknet market sites. And, they were able to conduct their logical investigation, not just FBI, but in partnership with the respective agencies, to effect a search warrant, and later, arrest and seizure.

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