Authorities arrested 40 people and seized more than $20 million in guns, drugs, cars, gold and cryptocurrency after a massive, year-long undercover operation targeting underground activity on the Internet.
The sprawling operation involving vendors on the "Darknet" led to the seizure of more than 100 guns, more than $20 million in Bitcoin, more than $3.6 million in US currency and gold bars, and prescription pills and drugs, including Xanax, Oxycodone, MDMA, cocaine, LSD and marijuana.
Homeland Security Investigations agents from New York posed as a money launderer on underground market sites and exchanged hard currency for virtual currency.
The operation led to the opening of dozens of cases against vendors around the country and to more than 90 active cases around the country.
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“The focus of this operation was not only to infliltrate the dark net marketplaces but to really focus our efforts on the bad actors," said Angel Melendez of Homeland Security Investigations.
Agents from HSI and postal inspectors conducted a series of subsequent arrests and the impending prosecution of more than 35 Darknet vendors.
“The Darknet is ever-changing and increasingly more intricate, making locating and targeting those selling illicit items on this platform more complicated. But in this case, HSI special agents were able to walk amongst those in the cyber underworld to find those vendors who sell highly addictive drugs for a profit,” said Acting HSI Executive Associate Director Benner in a press release.
The investigation is ongoing.