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30 October 2020

Darknet, cryptocurrency and two intersecting health crises

Darknet, cryptocurrency and two intersecting health crises


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While the precise origin of the COVID-19 pandemic is unknown, it has infected more than 30 million people, with almost 1 million confirmed to have died from it as it continues to spread across the world.

The United States — the worst-hit country by sheer numbers — is now facing two intersecting health crises: The ongoing opioid overdose epidemic and the coronavirus pandemic with more than 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 fatalities, which is about 20% of the global total death cases.

and Europe — the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement, or J-CODE — combats the complex and deadly threat of online darknet drug sales in opioids, in particular fentanyl, with the assistance from the U.S.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the drug-trafficking business — just like the rest of the economy — further shifted online to the darknet, according to UNODC’s recent World Drug Report.

attorney general’s office and the FBI in a letter whether the DOJ has a system that tracks indictments and investigations related to crimes involving the darknet and opioids; if authorities have been able to determine which countries opioids are coming from on the darknet; and whether there are technology companies that provide secure or encrypted communications that don’t cooperate with law enforcement with respect to drug trafficking.

According to Chainalysis’ recent Global Crypto Adoption Index, Eastern Europe accounts for more global darknet market activity than any other region, with most of the darknet peer-to-peer crypto and trading transaction activity occurring on Hydra Marketplace, which can only be accessed with an anonymized browser like The Onion Router, or TOR.

The anonymity of the darknet has fostered crimes such as narcotics trafficking and money laundering with the use of cryptocurrency.

Criminals prefer using the darknet coupled with cryptocurrency tumblers or mixing services, which are transmitted person-to-person with no oversight by governments or central banks, to obscure the trail back to the fund’s original source while paying for illicit goods and services

In a DEA announcement, “the Department of Justice, through the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team, joined Europol to announce the results of Operation DisrupTor, a coordinated international effort to disrupt opioid trafficking on the Darknet.” Law enforcement officials arrested 179 people and seized more than $6.5 million in cash and digital currency, and 500 kilograms of drugs in a worldwide crackdown on opioid trafficking on the darknet

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