Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Department of Justice Cracks Down on Darknet Drug Smuggling

For those who do not know, the “darknet” is the part of the internet that cannot be reached with a search engine like Google or Bing. But unlike the “deep web,” it’s not enough to simply know the web address of the site you wish to reach and enter it manually. If you want to access the darknet (sometimes called the “dark web”), you need a special browser. While the deep web constitutes about 95% of the entire internet, the dark net makes up just 5% of the web. True to its name, this part of the internet is filled with all kinds of unsavory things, including human smuggling operations, hitmen for hire, and illegal drugs.  

But what happens if you use the darknet to carry out your drug operation? Is it really as “hidden” as it seems? A new operation by the Department of Justice is cracking down on these operations, and it is having considerable success. 

Department of Justice Announces “Record-Breaking” Darknet Operation

On May 2, 2023, the Department of Justice announced record-breaking seizures and arrests as part of an international operation against darknet drug trafficking. This is Operation SpecTor, and it has resulted in 288 arrests so far. The operation also led to the seizure of 117 firearms, over $53 million in cash, and 850 kilograms of drugs. 

Coordinated in the United States, Europe, and South America, the operation involved the FBI, Europol’s Cybercrime Centre (EC3), and a wide range of other organizations. Attorney General Garland stated:

“Our message to criminals on the dark web is this: 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 FBI also specifically mentioned several Mexican cartels, pointing out that they have become extremely active on the darknet for their drug smuggling operations. A number of high-profile arrests were made over the years, sending numerous defendants to prison for decades. 

Brazilian Drug Trafficker Arrested in Boston

On May 5, 2023, it was reported that a Brazilian drug trafficker had been arrested by Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Boston. A field officer described this individual as a “public safety threat,” and he may be sent back to Brazil. It is not clear whether this arrest was connected with the aforementioned Operation SpecTor, but it is clear that multiple enforcement agencies are cracking down on these operations. 

Where Can I Find a Qualified, Experienced Defense Attorney in Massachusetts?

If you have been charged with drug smuggling on the darknet, it is imperative that you get in touch with an experienced defense attorney in Massachusetts at your earliest convenience. Although the Justice Department takes this situation very seriously, there are a number of defense strategies you can potentially employ to mitigate your legal consequences. Book your consultation today to get started.