Homeland Security sting nets dark net drug dealers

Welp, the United States Department of Justice just finished off their first major initiative to take on drug dealers and other shifty types plying their trade on the dark net. So far as stings go, it went pretty well!

After seizing the reigns of an online money-laundering operation, Homeland Security Investigations just kept on for a year, offering to clean the currency for a number of criminal operations, swapping out their dirty cash in exchange for slightly less dirty cryptocurrency.

Homeland Security offered their fake money laundering services to users of a number of different dark net market places, including Wall Street, AlphaBay and Dream Market. Given the yen of the Feds to take down whole marketplaces in the past, the sting marks the shift to a new strategy that makes a whole lot more sense: go after the criminals that use a given market instead of the market itself. There’s no sense in shutting down a Silk Road when everyone that was pulling nefarious shit will just move their business to Silk Road 2.0 or another market. You’ve gotta go after the vendors themselves.

From The Verge:

So far, prosecutions have been launched across 19 states as a result of the operation, seizing more than $3.6 million in cash. The same raids seized large quantities of Schedule IV pharmaceuticals — including 100,000 tramadol pills and over 24 kilograms of Xanax — as is typical of trade on dark net markets. Agents also recovered more than 300 models of liquid synthetic opioids and roughly 100 grams of fentanyl.

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The downfall of Silk Road, and with it, the so-called Dark Net

From Adrian Chen's Gawker long-read about that recent bust of the web's biggest online illegal drug marketplace:

The lesson of the Silk Road takedown isn't that Ulbricht was sloppy about security. It's that the idea of a world famous, anonymous illegal market is fatally contradictory. Ullbricht made some technical mistakes, but his biggest one was conceptual: buying his own hype that high-tech tricks would let him implement a radical free market fundamentalism that could never work politically.

Read the whole piece. Related: Chen's profile of Ross William Ulbricht. Read the rest