NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Crime conducted from digital devices has changed the way investigators play the game. “[Criminals] get lucky, and they’re lucky for a long time, and they get bolder, and they continue to make purchases and sell illicit materials, thinking we can’t catch them. But there are just so many examples where we have,” said Doug Korneski.
Korneski is the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Memphis field office. He explained the darknet acts as a digital bazaar for illegal goods. “You can find things from illicit drugs to firearms, to weapons of mass destructions, to child pornography, murder for hire requests.”
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Drug dealers seize the opportunity to exploit digital trafficking using cryptocurrency, digital money currency not supported by the government.
“The Silk Road investigation is a prime example of a dark web marketplace that we were able to completely disrupt and takedown,” said Korneski.
Ross Ulbricht was found guilty of creating silk road and acting as an internet drug lord. According to the FBI, thousands of dealers used the darknet site to distribute illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services to well over a hundred thousand buyers. “They operate on the dark web, thinking they’re protected by anonymity,” Korneski said.
Vendors were believed to be in more than ten different countries, including the United States. While in use, the silk road generated approximately $1.2 billion in sales and $80 million in commission. In November 2020, law enforcement seized more than $1 billion worth of digital currency from the case.
Korneski said the DEA is the lead agency when it comes to disrupting drug trafficking, but they work closely as an interagency network. “We have cyber teams around the country. We’ve set it up cyber task forces, and we even set up a cryptocurrency specialty group.”
Korneski can’t comment on current investigations but assured those operating on the dark web – the agency isn’t slowing down any time soon. “The better the perpetrators get, the better we have to be. But in the end, the FBI has a long arm and a long memory.”
The 30-year-old Ulbricht was sentenced to a double life sentence plus forty years without the possibility of parole for his crimes.
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