For the past five years, the I-Team has been closely following Operation J-CODE, an extensive effort to combat the escalating drug overdose problem not only in Chicago but also worldwide. The Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement group has set its sights on targeting the illegal sale of drugs within the depths of the internet, where a black market thrives, offering opioids, cocaine, firearms, and various other illicit items.
Unmasking Fentanyl Sales & Global Arrests
This week, federal law enforcement authorities made significant progress by apprehending numerous darknet traffickers across the globe, including a pair of suspected dealers intercepted at Midway Airport. From one coast to another and even beyond borders, a dedicated and highly trained global task force of heavily armed agents is now intensifying its efforts to dismantle fentanyl sales on the Dark Web. Contrary to its name, these websites are not as impenetrable as one might assume.
The recent series of seizures involving drugs, high-powered weapons, and the arrest of nearly 300 individuals across three continents marks the largest-ever international operation targeting fentanyl and opioid trafficking. FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate acknowledged the challenge of accurately quantifying the number of deaths potentially linked to this operation.
Chicago’s “Knock and Talk” Operations
In response to the crisis, FBI field offices, including Chicago, are employing “knock and talk” operations against drug buyers, revealing that their supposed anonymous purchases on the Dark Web have been exposed. Furthermore, the I-Team previously highlighted the resurgence of cocaine in Chicago, which now often contains deadly additives like fentanyl, presenting an additional threat.
While fentanyl remains a primary concern for federal agents, it is important to note that not all drug transactions occur through the Dark Web. In a recent incident at Midway Airport, two individuals from Detroit were arrested for smuggling a substantial amount of fentanyl. Authorities discovered wrapped bricks of this potentially lethal drug in their checked luggage, estimating its street value to exceed $3 million based on Chicago police reports.
Experienced law enforcement professionals understand that traditional investigative techniques are often necessary to apprehend criminals. Effective police work conducted on the ground led to the successful arrests and seizure of fentanyl at Midway Airport. However, drug trafficking organizations, known as DTOs, are highly adaptable, utilizing the Dark Web to facilitate fentanyl sales and continuously devising strategies to evade law enforcement efforts.