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[Source: This article was published in fbi.gov - Uploaded by the Association Member: Carol R. Venuti]

Operation SaboTor, a multi-agency law enforcement action between January and March 2019 that targeted opioid sales on the Darknet, included this search of a vehicle and a residence in California. The search was the result of an eight-month investigation that led to five arrests.

When Knoxville first responders found a man dead in his home, there was clear evidence on the scene of the heroin that caused his overdose. Also nearby were clues to how the deadly drugs had reached him. Investigators found a padded manila envelope with postage and markings that provided them another link back to the online drug sellers who have proliferated on the Darknet in recent years.

Drug traffickers are increasingly using anonymous online networks to sell narcotics, including potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl, to buyers who can order and receive the drugs without ever leaving home. What can appear to be a regular e-commerce transaction is one of the delivery channels fueling a deadly nationwide epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drug overdose deaths have been on an upward climb for several years, across the United States and across all demographic groups. In 2017 alone, 70,237 people in this country died of a drug overdose; two-thirds of those deaths involved an opioid.

As part of a government-wide effort to address the epidemic, the Department of Justice created the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team in 2018 to leverage the power of federal and international partnerships to combat the complex and deadly threat of online drug sales.

Now in its second year, J-CODE is delivering results through coordinated efforts and the commitment of the nation’s law enforcement agencies to address opioid sales on the Darknet. Building on the success of last year’s Operation Disarray, the J-CODE team led Operation SaboTor between January and March of this year. These concentrated operations in the United States and abroad led to 61 arrests and shut down 50 Darknet accounts used for illegal activity. Agents executed 65 search warrants, seizing more than 299 kilograms of drugs, 51 firearms, and more than $7 million ($4.504 million in cryptocurrency, $2.485 million in cash, and $40,000 in gold).

“This is a new and evolving threat, and we found that no one agency can do it alone.”

Maggie Blanton, special agent, FBI Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit

J-CODE joins the efforts of the FBI with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Defense (DOD). As many of these markets cross borders, Europol is also an invaluable international partner in J-CODE’s efforts to make a global impact on Darknet drug trafficking.

“This is a new and evolving threat, and we found that no one agency can do it alone,” said FBI Special Agent Maggie Blanton of the Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit at FBI Headquarters. “The FBI may get information from local law enforcement after an overdose or arrest. Through that tip, we can work with our federal partners with the Postal Inspection Service, because so often the drugs are moving through the mail. Our Customs and Border Protection partners are a great resource on understanding trends and preventing drugs from coming into the country from abroad, and our partnership with DEA is critical because of their experience and expertise with drug cases.”

The evidence gathered from that overdose death in Knoxville, for example, was shared with local law enforcement and then with USPIS, the FBI, and other partners. The eight-month investigation led to the arrest of five suspects in the Los Angeles area in March 2019 who are believed to be behind at least two online drug sites that shipped out an estimated 1,500 parcels each month. Search warrants carried out on a residence rented by the suspects and two of their vehicles uncovered drugs, a loaded gun, mailing supplies, computers, cell phones, and transaction receipts.

FBI Special Agent Nathan Cocklin said members of his Hi-Tech Organized Crime squad from the Los Angeles Field Office, along with USPIS inspectors, interviewed the suspects as they were brought into custody. He said the suspects claimed they were just running a business, making money, and not considering the impact of their online sales. “It’s a transaction only,” Cocklin said of the Darknet marketplaces. “They don’t even know each other’s real names.” He said the suspects never considered that a package dropped in a mailbox in Southern California could mean the loss of a life in eastern Tennessee.

Drugs uncovered in a March 2019 search in California of a residence and vehicle involved in a Darknet drug investigation by the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team.
Members of the J-CODE team conduct a search of a residence and vehicle in California in March 2019, where drugs were among the items seized.

A Multi-Agency, Multi-Layered Approach

The Darknet is a part of the Internet accessed through a specialized browser called Tor. Tor allows users to better hide who they are, where they are, and what they are doing online. Darknet marketplaces offer illicit goods that range from hacked bank accounts and stolen credit card information to guns and drugs.

“It’s become easier to get onto the Darknet marketplaces—all you need is a smartphone or computer,” said Chris Oksala, a supervisory special agent with DEA. “There are multiple ways to pay for the drug—from cryptocurrencies to Western Union transfers—and there are multiple ways to shield your identity.”

But on the other side of the seeming ease and anonymity of buying and selling on the Darknet is the hard work being done by law enforcement, in concert, to combat the illegal activity occurring online—from targeting the marketplaces and the sellers to reaching out to those buying illegal wares online.

“These are very complex and time-consuming cases for one agency,” said Kyle Rau, USPIS program manager for Darkweb investigations. “The ‘one government’ approach allows us to tap into each agency’s strength and allows each agency to focus on a particular task.”

The FBI and its law enforcement partners in the United States and abroad have had tremendous success in recent years taking down some of the largest and most profitable Darknet marketplaces. In 2017, law enforcement seized the AlphaBay marketplace, believed to be the largest Darknet market at the time. That seizure was followed by a takedown of Hansa market, another major player.

“It is harder to get the infrastructure up,” stressed Cocklin. “To compare it to a normal drug organization, a dealer is easier to replace than the head of the organization. If you take out a marketplace, you have to rebuild. It takes money and time and undermines trust. Did taking out AlphaBay and Hansa stop everything? No. Did it make an impact? Absolutely.”

The next-level target is the Darknet drug trafficking organizations. The goal of Operation Disarray and Operation SaboTor, along with the ongoing work of J-CODE partners, is to identify and arrest those behind the online sales.

“It takes work, but the FBI, USPIS, DEA, and others are laser-focused on tackling the opioid epidemic on the web.”

Nathan Cocklin, special agent, FBI Los Angeles

The final prong of the J-CODE effort is educating the public on the dangers of opioids by contacting individuals who are known to have purchased drugs online. Sometimes the message arrives too late. In locating and contacting buyers, the J-CODE team often comes across death notices and obituaries. In some cases, agents learn from buyers that they had survived an overdose; in other cases, agents learn from family members that a buyer did not. Oksala stressed that many of the drugs being sold online carry the added danger of unknown, powerful chemicals. “People are making thousands of pills at a time, doing the formulation without any scientific training,” he said.

The agents arrive with information on addiction and treatment, and their very presence challenges the anonymous nature of the Darknet. “If they know someone is looking, people lose faith in the marketplace,” said Rich Sheehan, USPIS assistant inspector in charge. “We’ve proven time and time again that they are not anonymous.”

”We are able to identify people,” said Cocklin. “It takes work, but the FBI, USPIS, DEA, and others are laser-focused on tackling the opioid epidemic on the web.”

Categorized in Internet Privacy

NOT SO LONG ago, the internet represented a force for subversion, and WIRED’s list of the most dangerous people on the internet mostly consisted of rebellious individuals using the online world’s disruptive potential to take on the world’s power structures. But as the internet has entered every facet of our lives, and governments and political figures have learned to exploit it, the most dangerous people on the internet today often are the most powerful people.

A Russian dictator has evolved his tactics from suppressing internet dissent to using online media for strategic leaks and disinformation. A media mogul who rose to prominence on a wave of hateful bile now sits at the right hand of the president. And a man who a year ago was a reality television star and Twitter troll is now the leader of the free world.

Vladimir Putin

Since experts pinned the Democratic National Committee breach in July on two teams of hackers with Russian-state ties, the cybersecurity and US intelligence community’s consensus has only grown: Russia is using the internet to screw with America’s electoral politics. The Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, followed by the leak of those groups’ private communications, injected chaos and distraction into the Democratic party at a crucial moment in the electoral season, and may have even helped tip the scales for Trump.

Even before those Russian hackers’ handiwork came to light, Putin’s government was already hard at work poisoning political discourse online. Its armies of paid trolls have been busy injecting false stories into online discussion forums, attacking the Kremlin’s critics on Twitter and in the comments of news sites. Taken together, that hacking and trolling makes Putin’s government one of the world’s most malevolent forces for disinformation and disruption online. And if anything, recent events have only emboldened them.

Donald Trump

When WIRED compiled its list of the internet’s most dangerous people in 2015, we called Trump a “demagogue, more interested in inciting backward fears and playing to Americans’ worst prejudices than addressing global problems.” None of that has changed. Trump still hasn’t officially renounced his promises of a ban on Muslim immigration or apologized for calling Mexican immigrants rapists. Now, he’s weeks away from becoming President of the United States.

As President-elect, Trump has continued to act as the world’s most powerful internet troll, telling his 17.6 million Twitter followers that anyone who burns the American flag should be unconstitutionally imprisoned and have their citizenship revoked, and arguing, with no evidence, that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in an election that he won. Trump’s Twitter account telegraphs his apparent disregard for the Constitution, spreads disinformation on a massive scale, and has baselessly called America’s electoral process into question.

Steve Bannon

Before Steve Bannon joined Donald Trump’s campaign as CEO, he was already in Trump’s corner as the publisher of the righter-than-right wing news site Breitbart.com. During his tenure running that site, Breitbart published the racist, anti-semitic and overtly misogynist content that made it the paper of record for the bigoted new political fringe known as the alt-right. Now, as the chief strategist for Trump’s transition team coming presidency, he stands to bring that fascist agitprop perspective into the White House itself.

James Comey

In the weeks before November’s election, FBI Director James Comey cemented his already controversial reputation by revealing that his agents would continue the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, after previously setting it aside in July. He did not explain anything about what a newly found trove of emails entailed, or why they might be significant (they weren’t). That half-clue was all the Trump campaign and its surrogates needed to start a wildfire of speculation, and even to claim that Clinton would be imminently indicted (she wasn’t).

But even before Comey’s unwarranted insertion of the FBI into the most sensitive political moment of a tense election, the FBI head had led the federal government’s war on encryption to a dangerous standoff: demanding that Apple write code to help the bureau crack its own device, the locked iPhone 5c of San Bernadino killer Rizwan Farook. That six-week battle, which finally ended in the FBI finding its own method of breaking into the phone, showed Comey’s willingness to compromise Americans’ cybersecurity and privacy in the interests of surveillance, and put a lasting strain on Silicon Valley’s relationship with the FBI.

ISIS

The pseudo-religious apocalyptic cult known as the Islamic State may be losing money, resources, and ground on its home turf in Iraq and Syria. But its tendrils still extend throughout the web and social media. The group showed in 2016 that it can still reach lone, disaffected, and even mentally ill people to inspire tragic acts of violence. Even as its direct power crumbles, ISIS’s propaganda this year contributed to horrific massacres from the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice to the Pulse night club shootings in Orlando. And unlike the rest of the individuals on this list, ISIS’ danger comes from what social media extremism expert Humera Khan calls “the ISIS Borg collective.” The deaths of dozens of top ISIS commanders in 2016, in other words, hasn’t dulled the group’s message.

Milo Yiannopoulos

The Breitbart columnist Milo Yiannpoulos in 2016 illustrated everything that’s wrong with Twitter. Not simply his role as an “alt-right troll”—a polite term for a race-baiting, misogynistic, immoral fame-monger. Yiannopoulos graduated from awful ideas to actual targeted abuse, gleefully turning his hordes of followers on targets like actress and comedian Leslie Jones, who thanks to Yiannopolous was drowned in so much nakedly racist, sexist abuse that she temporarily quit the site. Twitter eventually banned him, a decision Yiannopolous lauded as only increasing his fame. And there are plenty more people who still espouse his ideas on the platform. But it will at least keep his vile statements confined to the darker corners of the internet, where they belong.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

For a brief moment this summer, the world feared that a military coup would topple Turkey’s elected president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Then it watched in horror as Erdoğan used that failed coup to justify a internet and media crackdown rarely, if ever, seen in modern democracies. More than a hundred Turkish journalists have since been jailed, and access has been intermittently throttled or cut to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp. In response to protests that have since embroiled the country, Erdoğan’s regime has at times cut off internet access entirely to millions of Turks, denying them both the means to assemble and spread dissident information, as well as basic services.

Julian Assange

Julian Assange proved in 2016 that even from the two-room de facto prison of London’s Ecuadorean embassy, it’s possible to upend the powers-that-be. In WikiLeaks’ most influential and controversial moves since it first rose to national attention in 2010, Assange masterminded the leaks of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the email account of Hillary Clinton campaign staffer John Podesta. Never mind that those leaks appeared to come not from internal whistleblowers but from external hackers, believed by US intelligence agencies to be on Russia’s payroll. Assange has denied that his source is Russian. But it’s a curious claim: WikiLeaks is designed to guarantee sources’ anonymity, so that even he can’t identify them. He also promises those sources he’ll “maximize the impact” of their leaks. And in this election, he kept his promise.

Peter Thiel

After supporting Donald Trump’s campaign financially and vocally, Peter Thiel ended this year as arguably the most influential person in Silicon Valley, literally sitting at the left hand of the president-elect in the tech industry’s meeting with him earlier this month. The intelligence contractor Palantir, which he co-founded, will no doubt rise with him, and its powers for privacy-piercing analysis could become more broadly applied within America’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies than ever before.

But we’ll leave all that for next year’s “most dangerous” list. Thiel’s real demonstration of his power in 2016 came in the form of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker, which the tech billionaire was revealed to have funded. The suit effectively wiped one of his personal enemies off the internet—which, as Thiel has calmly explained, was his goal. Given that win for censorship, his role on the Trump transition team, and Trump’s promise to “open up” libel laws, Gawker may just be the canary in the First Amendment coal mine.1

Source : https://www.wired.com/2016/12/dangerous-people-internet-2016/

Categorized in News & Politics

In a motion filed by assistant federal defender Peter Adolf, he argues that during the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s operation into the deepweb child pornography site “Playpen,” the FBI made the child pornography issue even worse.

Similar motions claim that the FBI themselves distributed as many as 1 million pictures and videos of child pornography to more than 100,000 users while overseeing the operations of the Playpen site.

As part of the operation known as “Operation Pacifier,” the FBI infiltrated Playpen and had full control of the site during February 2015. During this time, the FBI uploaded illicit pictures and videos that allowed malware to be installed on the computers of the site’s users. The malware led to the eventual prosecution of 186 individuals.

According to The Daily Caller, three lawyers have filed motions against the FBI for their role in distributing child pornography and running the site. In addition, several judges have recommended throwing out or suppressing evidence obtained in the hacking of users’ computers.

According to Peter Adolf’s motion filed on August 22nd to dismiss his client’s indictment, Playpen membership rose by 30 percent and the weekly number of visitors to the site increased from 11,000 to 50,000. His motion claims the FBI distributed 200 videos, 9,000 images and 13,000 links of child pornography.

His official statement:

From there the FBI distributed child pornography to viewers and downloaders worldwide for nearly two weeks, until at least March 4, 2015, even working to improve the performance of the website beyond its original capability.

As a result, the number of visitors to Playpen while it was under Government control [jumped] from an average of 11,000 weekly visitors to approximately 50,000 per week. During those two weeks, the website’s membership grew by over 30%, the number of unique weekly visitors to the site more than quadrupled, and approximately 200 videos, 9,000 images, and 13,000 links to child pornography [sites] were posted to the site.

Adolf is arguing that his client’s charges should be dropped because the FBI’s actions during the investigation were shocking and equated “outrageous conduct.”

“Government agents worked hard to upgrade the website’s capability to distribute large amounts of child pornography quickly and efficiently, resulting in more users receiving more child pornography faster than they ever did when the website was running ‘illegally,'” Adolf added.

Adolf lists comments from some of the site’s users that further his client’s claim that the site was functioning better than it ever had prior to the FBI’s presence.

Of those comments praising the site’s functionality some included comments like these:

“Yes, it is working much better now!”

“Working FAST today :-)”

“It now runs everything very smoothly!”

Adolf points to two previous circuit court cases in 1984 and 1986 where cases have been dismissed when government agents have supplied or were “intimately involved” in the production of illegal material, or when their conduct resulted in injuries to an innocent third party. The government’s current standards for child pornography include a new case of abuse each time a child has his or her image viewed.

Between information in Adolf’s motion and the similar motions filed on the 22nd, the FBI distributed a million pictures, videos, and links, and according to those defense attorneys, that number is a “conservative estimate.”

From the Department of Justice’s own press release:

“Producing and distributing child pornography re-victimizes our children every time it is passed from one person to another.”

“The court should schedule an evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the harm caused by the government’s investigatory tactics and dismiss the indictment if the Court finds the governmental conduct leading to the charges against the defendants unable to reconcile with fundamental expectations of decency and fairness,” the attorneys concluded.

Author:  C. ALIENS

Source:  https://www.deepdotweb.com

Categorized in Deep Web

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