Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The Justice Department said Tuesday a joint international operation has made nearly 200 arrests in several countries and captured more than $6.5 million in cash and drugs.
The department said its Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team worked with Europol on Operation DistrupTor, a cross-border effort to attack drug trafficking on the Darknet.
Authorities received information last year that allowed them to identify traffickers and led to international investigations, the department noted. Authorities said the operation targeted illegal drugs and other goods sold on the Darknet.
"With the spike in opioid-related overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that today's announcement is important and timely," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
"The FBI wants to assure the American public, and the world, that we are committed to identifying Darknet drug dealers and bringing them to justice."
Authorities also seized 1,100 pounds of drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and medicine containing addictive substances.
Officials identified suspects who sold the items on Darknet sites such as AlphaBay, Dream, WallStreet, Nightmare, Empire, WhiteHouse, DeepSea and Dark Market.
"Criminals selling fentanyl on the Darknet should pay attention," Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said. "The arrest of 179 of them in seven countries -- with the seizure of their drug supplies and their money as well -- shows that there will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace."
Arrests in the United States included about a dozen people who face charges in California, Georgia, Ohio, Virginia and Texas, officials said.
"Our trained cyberanalysts and investigators have conducted undercover efforts that target dark website operators, vendors and prolific buyers of these dangerous drugs," Derek Benner, acting deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said.
"Special agents employ unique investigative capabilities to trace and identify the proceeds stemming from the distribution and online sales of fentanyl and other illicit opioids."