Dark web crypto-drug traffickers 'can try to hide in the furthest reaches of the internet, but the Justice Department will find you'

Merrick Garland making a speech about dark web criminals
(Image credit: Anna Moneymaker / Staff)

Dark web crypto criminals beware. The US Justice Department has issued a warning after arresting 288 dark web ne'er-do-wells over suspected opioid sales on the notorious drug trafficking site, Monopoly Market, which has since been taken down. 

This recent dark web purge, code name SpecTor, targeted the "largest, most violent, and most prolific fentanyl trafficking operation in the world: the Sinaloa Cartel." That's according to a powerful speech from US Attorney General Merrick Garland, in which he speaks directly to criminals trying to bypass the law by operating on the dark web (via The Register).

His message?

"You can try to hide in the furthest reaches of the internet, but the Justice Department will find you and hold you accountable for your crimes."

The multi-continental SpecTor operation is the biggest ever of its kind, spanning eight countries aside from the US. It's seen not only the largest number of arrests, but also the US Justice Department's biggest haul of contraband to date. The score includes "117 illegal firearms, 850 kilograms of drugs, and $53.4 million dollars in cash and cryptocurrency", says Garland.

"The drug traffickers are confident that, by operating anonymously on the dark web, they can operate outside the bounds of the law. They are wrong."

Your next upgrade

(Image credit: Future)

Best CPU for gaming: The top chips from Intel and AMD
Best gaming motherboard: The right boards
Best graphics card: Your perfect pixel-pusher awaits
Best SSD for gaming: Get into the game ahead of the rest

Looks like Uncle Sam's coming to shine the proverbial torch of justice on the dark web, then. It's all very dramatic, isn't it? 

Speeches like this make the whole thing feel so much like a stage play; I suspect it's only fuelling the remainder of the fentanyl flogging dark webbers—laughing in their digital web3 halls, believing themselves to be some action movie mastermind who has yet to be caught.

Garland goes on to announce the Justice Department is "cracking down on criminal cryptocurrency transactions and the online criminal marketplaces that enable them." It's clear there is a big focus on cryptocurrency, but as this latest bust goes to show, crypto transactions may not be as spectral as you might think. 

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.