N4T Investigators: Undercover operation targets 'Dark Web' vendo - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Undercover operation targets 'Dark Web' vendors

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The dealers who sell drugs to kids aren't always hanging out on street corners these days. Instead, they are in the darkest corners of the internet. These are criminal elements, offering everything from illegal and prescription drugs, to guns. Now, a massive nationwide bust has resulted in dozens of arrests.

"These people know about the online websites, and we've been seeing that increase," said Homeland Security Investigations agent, Jared Der-Yeghiayan.

The 'Dark Web' is a place where buyers and sellers meet in virtual anonymity. It's made up of sites hidden deep within the Internet, that are only accessible through a special browser.

Authorities say the Dark Web knows no age limits. In fact, a synthetic drug that a teen bought online claimed the life of a 13-year-old Utah boy in 2016. The growing use of crypto-currency, coupled with the ability to order online and have drugs delivered, makes the Dark Web especially dangerous, and appealing to teens.

"There's other people trying to make a lot of money off of that, and they're making it off the blood, and the deaths, and the pain of the people that comes from not knowing how dangerous these websites are," Der-Yeghiayan said. 

Last week, federal authorities arrested 40 people and seized more than $20M in guns, drugs, cars, gold and crypto-currency. The arrests followed a year-long undercover operation targeting underground vendors on the Dark Web. Agents seized more than 100 guns, cash, gold bars, oxycodone, Xanax, ecstasy, and other drugs. Investigators say Homeland Security agents from New York posed as a money launderer on underground market sites.

"We were able to take over a vendor account that provided money laundering services for these darknet market vendors," said Special Agent Angel Melendez, with Homeland Security Investigations. 

In all, agents from HSI and Postal Inspectors arrested and will be prosecuting more than 35 Dark Web vendors, and more arrests could follow in the days ahead.

For more information, including what every parent should know about the Dark Web click here and here. 

If you have something you would like the News 4 Tucson investigators to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.

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