Record-breaking fentanyl arrests in international dark web operation

The global fight against drug trafficking on the dark web reached new heights as the Department of Justice, in collaboration with its Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) team and international partners, announced the results of their most successful operation ever. Operation SpecTor spanned three continents and was designed to disrupt fentanyl and opioid trafficking on the darknet, or dark web.

SpecTor resulted in 288 arrests, which is the most ever for any JCODE operation and nearly double that of the prior operation. Law enforcement also conducted more seizures than any prior operation, including 117 firearms, 850 kilograms of drugs that include 64 kilograms of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced narcotics, and $53.4 million in cash and virtual currencies.

“The availability of dangerous substances like fentanyl on dark net marketplaces is helping to fuel the crisis that has claimed far too many American lives,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “That’s why we will continue to join forces with our law enforcement partners around the globe to attack this problem together.”

The operation was conducted across the United States, Europe, and South America.

“The Sinaloa and Jalisco drug cartels, and the global networks they operate are killing Americans by sending fentanyl into the United States. Their associates distribute this fentanyl into communities across America by every means possible, including the dark web,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “The DEA is committed to shutting down the fentanyl supply chain from beginning to end, and we will relentlessly pursue the associates of these cartels wherever they hide, even in the dark corners of the internet.”

As Emily’s Hope has reported, lawmakers are currently considering legislation to declare fentanyl trafficking a national emergency.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 71,000 people died from overdosing on synthetic opioids such as fentanyl in 2021, up from almost 58,000 in 2020. Provisional data from the CDC shows more than 100,000 Americans died overall from drug overdoses in 2022.