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179 Arrested in Massive Global Dark Web Takedown


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Pills.

Operation Disruptor has led to a wave of arrests and seizures, but the dark web drug market has bounced back before.

Credit: Getty Images

It's one of the largest global dark web takedowns to date: 179 arrests spread across six countries; 500 kilograms of drugs seized; $6.5 million in cash and cryptocurrency confiscated. And while it was announced this morning, Operation Disruptor traces its roots back to May 3, 2019. That's the day that German police seized Wall Street Market, the popular underground bazaar that gave international authorities everything they needed to upend the dark web drug trade.

It's unclear how big a dent Operation Disruptor will make in the long run; the dark web drug market tends to bounce back, even after the high-profile collapses of marketplaces like the Silk Road and AlphaBay. But even if law enforcement is playing an eternal game of Whac-A-Mole, it's at least gotten extremely proficient at whacking.

In the U.S., Operation Disruptor plays out across dozens of court documents and around 120 arrests. In Ohio, members of a group known as PillCosby were charged with mailing out over a million pills laced with fentanyl. Prosecutors in Washington, DC, allege that David Brian Pate concealed thousands of OxyContin, Xanax, and morphine pills inside souvenir maracas. A pharmacist in Nebraska allegedly planned to firebomb a local competitor after stealing their opiate supply, in service of what officials say was his booming narcotics trafficking business.

 

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