FBI says 288 Arrested in Global Fentanyl & Opioid Bust

May 2, 2023

The FBI announced Tuesday that 288 people were arrested in a years-long operation targeting darknet fentanyl and opioid trafficking across three continents.

According to the Department of Justice, “Operation SpecTor” targeted the “largest ever operation” of fentanyl and opioid trafficking on the dark web. Along with 288 suspects arrested over two years, more than 850 kilograms of drugs were seized, including 64 kilos of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced narcotics. All were intended to be sold on the dark web

“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,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a news conference Tuesday.

The DOJ further said that 117 firearms and $53.4 million in cash and cryptocurrencies were seized as part of the operation.

Law enforcement singled out two drug cartels in its bust. One was the Sinaloa cartel, which is accused of gruesome crimes and had included among its members several sons of drug lord  Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman—until the DOJ arrested them in April. The other was the Jalisco cartel. 

“The Sinaloa and Jalisco drug cartels, and the global networks they operate are killing Americans by sending fentanyl into the United States. Their associates distribute this fentanyl into communities across America by every means possible, including the dark web,” said Anne Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, adding that the DEA “is committed to shutting down the fentanyl supply chain from beginning to end.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a record 107,622 Americans died from drug poisoning or overdose in 2021, including 71,238 deaths that year from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

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