The FBI announced on March 26, 2019, that several law enforcement agencies teamed up to conduct a series of separate raids and interviews targeting opioid traffickers on the Darknet. The officers seized a cache of drugs, firearms, gold, cash, and an assortment of cryptocurrencies.
Separate but Complementary Raids
According to a March 26, 2019 press release, the FBI led a joint operation dubbed “Operation Sabo Tor” that comprised of a series of separate but complementary raids between January and March 12, 2019.
The law enforcement agencies involved in the sting operations included the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Operation Sabo Tor was led by members of the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team and resulted in 61 arrests and the shutdown of 50 dark web accounts associated with online criminal activity.
The operation impounded almost 300 kilos of different illicit drugs, 51 firearms, and more than $4.5 million worth of cryptocurrency, $2.48 million in cash, and $40,000 worth of gold. The series of operations specifically targeted the opioid epidemic, and the officers went after the most prolific opioid vendors on the dark web to takedown their activities and brought their trading to a halt.
Rid Cryptosphere of Criminals
As he made the announcement, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated:
“Law enforcement is most effective when we work together, and J-CODE is the global tip of the spear in the fight against online opioid trafficking, […] criminals have always adopted innovations and new technologies to achieve their illicit goals, and it’s our job to adapt and remain ahead of the threat.”
It is operations like Sabo Tor that will rid cryptosphere of criminals who have given cryptocurrencies a lousy name and overly associating it with the underworld.
The name Sabo Tor is a combination of sabotage or saboteur and the dark web browser The Onion Router (TOR). The browser allows users to protect themselves from traffic analysis used to discover who is communication with whom on public networks, besides being used to track someone’s online behavior, interests, and affiliations.
Due to its privacy-preserving nature, the Tor browser has become extremely popular among journalists, activists, whistleblowers, political dissidents, NGOs, online privacy advocates, and, of course, dark web users.
Commenting, Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle, stated:
“The [dark web] is not as dark as you think. When you buy or sell illegal goods online, you are not hidden from law enforcement, and you are putting yourself in danger.”
As BTCmanager reported last month, Texas is among the states that want to de-anonymize cryptocurrency, and the new EU regulations will make it harder for users to hide their identity when buying cryptocurrencies online, making De Bolle’s statement somehow right.