In one of the biggest ever busts of dark web enterprise, global police agencies announced Tuesday they had arrested 179 vendors and buyers of illegal drugs in Europe and the U.S.
Operation DisrupTor targeted drug sales on the darknet across the United States and Europe.
The Department of Justice said the operation resulted in:
- 179 arrests, 121 of which were in the United States.
- $6.5 million seized
- 500 kilograms of drugs seized worldwide
- 274 kilograms of drugs seized in the United States
“With the spike in opioid-related overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that today’s announcement is important and timely,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement. “The FBI will continue to use all investigative techniques and tools to identify and prosecute Darknet opioid dealers, wherever they may be located.”
The majority of the arrests were in the U.S. where 121 were apprehended, whilst 42 were in Germany, eight in the Netherlands, four in the U.K., three in Austria and one in Sweden.
In announcing the operation, Europol claimed the “golden age of the dark web marketplace is over.”
“Law enforcement is most effective when working together, and today’s announcement sends a strong message to criminals selling or buying illicit goods on the dark web: the hidden internet is no longer hidden, and your anonymous activity is not anonymous. Law enforcement is committed to tracking down criminals, no matter where they operate – be it on the streets or behind a computer screen,” said Edvardas Šileris, head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).
In united states the operation lasted nine months and resulted in prosecutions in California, Georgia, Virginia and Texas.
The most notable arrests happened in Cincinnati, five people were indicted as part of the group that operated under the names “PillCosby” and “Slanggang,” according to court documents.
The federal indictment states the group began forming as early as 2013 and dealt drugs in darknet markets places with names like Silk Road, Empire, Dream, Sleep and Nightmare.
Those indicted include: Khlari Sirotkin, 36, of Colorado; Kelly Stephens, 32, of Colorado; Sean Deaver, 36, of Nevada; Abby Jones, 37, of Nevada; and Sasha Sirotkin, 32, of California.
Several members of the group had a number of nicknames, agents said. Khlari Sirotkin went by Killa B. Stephens and was called Killa Kells and oxxxymoron. Deaver went by Interstatefatz or just Fatz. Jones also adopted the name Abby Fatz.
The FBI estimates the group sold 33.9 kilograms of fentanyl in five months in 2019.
Between April 2018 and Sept. 2019, undercover FBI agents ordered at least 587 fentanyl pills from the group in 15 separate orders that were all sent to southern Ohio, according to the indictment.
The case against all five defendants is still ongoing in the U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio.
It must be noted that vendors from Wall Street market that was seized in May 2019 were targeted in this latest bust and have previously been arrested by U.S. police since the market’s closure.
More details are still emerging and will be shared with you in the coming days.