By Andy Roesgen
CHICAGO, United States (AA) - The US Justice Department announced Tuesday that a 10-month international drug trafficking investigation in the US and Europe has led to 150 arrests and uncovered tens of thousands of illegal drug sales.
Investigators seized illegal drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine, along with counterfeit medications and opioid pills. They also confiscated more than $31 million in cash, along with virtual currency and 45 guns.
The investigation was dubbed "Operation Dark HunTor," a reference to the Tor Browser, which provides anonymity for users on the darknet -- part of the internet hosted within an encrypted network.
Sixty-five arrests were made in the US, 47 in Germany and 24 in the United Kingdom, along with arrests in Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland.
In announcing the arrests, US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the investigation builds on the success of last year's Operation DisrupTor, which took down the world's largest illegal marketplace on the darknet.
Monaco noted there was a surge in drug use during the depths of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and the darknet has provided a breeding ground for illicit drug sales.
She said darknet vendors were selling fake prescription pain pills that were created in fake laboratories and laced with fentanyl and methamphetamine.
While the investigation remains ongoing, Monaco said the arrests send "one clear message to those hiding on the darknet peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet. We can and will shine a light."