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Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco Delivers Remarks on Operation Dark HunTor


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Prepared

Good morning and thank you for being here today. I am pleased to be joined this morning by the Deputy Executive Director of EUROPOL, Jean-Philippe Lecouff, as well as the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Kenneth Polite Jr., FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, and leaders of several law enforcement partners.

We are here today to expose those who seek the shadows of the internet to peddle killer pills worldwide. Thanks to unprecedented international law enforcement collaboration — 150 Darknet drug traffickers have been arrested around the world — including 65 here in the United States.

Led by the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team, an international law enforcement partnership — also known as JCODE — Operation Dark HunTor spanned 10 months, three continents, and more than 12 international law enforcement agencies. The graphic you see on screen reflects what can be achieved through global cooperation — including the recovery of more than 500 pounds of illegal drugs, which contained enough fentanyl for more than four million lethal doses. This operation seized nearly $32 million in cash and virtual currencies — the largest JCODE seizure to date.

Our efforts span back to the January 2021 dismantling of Dark Market — at the time the world’s largest illegal marketplace on the Darknet — thanks to our German law enforcement partners. Armed with intelligence from that action, Operation Dark HunTor was launched with one clear goal: to hunt down the vendors, buyers, and suppliers who had been hiding on that site and make sure they did not find a new platform.

The timing was key: since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have turned to the Darknet than ever before to buy drugs. Already a billion-dollar illicit drug industry, Darknet drug revenue has surpassed pre-pandemic levels. With much of the sales occurring on social media platforms — including sales of fake pills, which are often laced with fentanyl and methamphetamine. Last month, DEA Administrator Milgram and I warned from this same podium that “One Pill Can Kill.” Well, Operation Dark HunTor went after illegal drug distributors who use the Darknet to traffic the illicit drugs — and items like pill presses — which are fueling the ongoing opioid crisis plaguing our communities.

The FBI Deputy Director and DEA Administrator will describe their operations in more detail but as part of Operation Dark HunTor, we saw Darknet drug vendors running laboratories at home, creating fake pills with pill presses — pills styled to look like OxyContin, Xanax, or Adderall but which are actually laced with fentanyl, methamphetamine or other potentially fatal doses of narcotics.

In the United States alone, this operation seized over 200,000 pills, 90% of which were found to contain counterfeit opioids or narcotics. To put this in perspective, just two milligrams of fentanyl — a size so small it could fit on the tip of a pen — is considered a deadly dose.

Thanks to the partnership represented here, lives around the world will be saved.

Before I close, I want to address those who remain on the Darknet, peddling illegal drugs and thinking they are safe behind layers of digital anonymity.

My message to you is simple: there is no dark internet. We can and we will shine a light. The agencies you see here and the thousands of the law enforcement professionals they represent will bring to bear all of their resources to protect our citizens and hold you accountable.

With that, I will now turn it over to the Deputy Executive Director of EUROPOL, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe. Thank you.

Updated October 27, 2021