US federal authorities have uncovered a trove of illegal materials including guns, drugs, and even a grenade launcher. The materials are the result of an ongoing operation called ‘dark gold’ which sought to uncover illegal activity on the dark web.
Around 2,000 Bitcoins were seized from around 40 vendors with the majority of the money coming from just two vendors of illegal contraband. The vendors were from Maryland in America and the seized Bitcoin is worth around $22 million.
The arrests occurred on January 18 and included the arrest of two men named Farace and Swain. The former is accused of drug distribution and could face up to 50 years in prison. The latter could merely face charges of money laundering.
The operation titled ‘dark gold’ has been active for over a year and aimed to bring together many different agencies in the crackdown of online drug distribution. The agencies included the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service to name a few. A press release of the operation describes it as being an initial success:
“Since its inception more than one year ago, Operation Dark Gold has led to the opening of more than 90 active cases around the country. Numerous individuals have been arrested and charged, and the operation has resulted in the seizure of weapons, drugs, virtual currency proceeds, United States currency, and computer equipment”.
The operation has targeted emerging dark web markets such as Silk Road 2.0, AlphaBay, Wall Street, and Dream Market. The ongoing problem has been that individual dealers have switched markets when a complete market has been dissolved. The operation has responded to this by targeting individuals wherever they may trade.
The federal agents were able to target individual drug dealers by offering actual money in exchange for Bitcoin. This tactic allowed the agents to track individual dealers and trace a wider net of financial transactions.
The agents also confiscated around 300 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids, guns, and a grenade launcher. One of the accused named Farace had a setup to manufacture generic Xanax pills. Farace had already created and distributed around 7,000 Xanax pills.