The state of California takes crimes involving the sale and manufacture of drugs very seriously. Those charged face a variety of punishments, including lengthy jail terms and exorbitant fines. 

As illustrated by the Los Angeles Daily News, drug trafficking crimes can also take place on the internet. The so-called “darknet” or “darkweb” is considered a marketplace for a variety of illicit substances by law enforcement. A recent sting operation in Southern California targeted individuals for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring that extended to numerous states and even other countries. 

Attempts to conceal drug trafficking involved advanced technology

Encryption is the process of concealing one’s identity or communications from outside forces, including law enforcement. Those charged during this sting operation are alleged to have used these encryption technologies, such as an anonymous communication software known as Tor, to mask their activities. In exchange for illicit substances, which included methamphetamine, MDMA and others, the alleged traffickers received cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. It is estimated that the suspected drug trafficking ring was involved in over 18,000 drug sales, some of which took place outside the U.S. 

Efforts were conducted by the JCODE task force

The Los Angeles Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) were instrumental in the sting operation thanks to efforts made earlier in the year. During the initial operation, the JCODE seized over 60 packages containing illicit substances. According to Nick Hanna, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, the task force will continue its probes into darknet activities involving drug trafficking. 

Law enforcement is capable of easily monitoring activities on the web, whether legal or illegal. Additionally, online crimes are taken just as seriously as those that occur in real life, and those charged can face many years or even decades in jail depending on the nature of the offense.