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FBI ‘Operation Disarray’ Targets Dark Web Drug Sales Destined for NJ

Hacker working on a code on dark digital background with digital interface around.

The secrecy surrounding the dark web has begun to lift in recent years, as more and more FBI busts have resulted in the takedown of major players caught using its anonymity to hide their shady dealings. However, people are still using the dark web to shuttle drugs back and forth across the country – drugs that include opiates like heroin and painkillers that are fueling the ongoing drug overdose epidemic that has been plaguing the US for almost a decade.

In response, the FBI is taking action, not just to take down the people at the top of the pyramid but to also identify those who are keeping them in business. To that end, they are targeting those who are on the receiving end of drug packages purchased on the dark web and sending a strong message.

According to Bradley Cohen, acting special agent in charge of the FBI in Newark, that message is: “Law enforcement is here, we know pretty much what you’re up to, and you need to cease that activity. But if there is a problem, we’re here to get you help.”

Little Egg Harbor, Mount Laurel, Monroe Township, and Bradley Beach are just a few of the locations in New Jersey that are being targeted by the FBI operation called “Operation Disarray.” At the end of last month, eight people were approached by agents as suspected recipients of packages containing opiates. No arrests were made and no search and seizures were conducted. Rather, the focus of the endeavor was spreading information about risks associated with buying drugs online as well as awareness of options in substance abuse treatment. The goal is not to fill up the jails but to help lower the incredibly high rates of opiate overdose that have hit the Jersey Shore in the past 10 years.

Risks of Online Drug Buys

Some people feel safer purchasing black market opiate drugs online rather than meeting a drug dealer in person to make the exchange. The fact is, however, that online drug sales are just as dangerous as street sales and come with a few extra risks as well.

While avoiding in-person contact can create a sense of safety for the buyer, there is also no ability to hold the dealer responsible for their wares. If the buyer doesn’t know who the dealer is, it is impossible to hold that person accountable if the drugs end up resulting in overdose or are not what they are purported to be.

Additionally, as with all drug purchases, there is no way to know exactly what it is in the package. Drugs sold as heroin may contain some amount of fentanyl to make the batch more potent, and the user may not be able to determine the potency of the substance until it is too late.

There is also the fact that the act of buying the drugs online and having them delivered through the mail is a federal crime in itself. Though it may feel like it is happening under the radar of law enforcement, the FBI is not unaware.

Said Cohen: “If you think that’s being secretive, it isn’t.”

Addiction Is Addiction

No matter how you are getting your drug of choice – through the mail, from a doctor and pharmacist, or on the street – addiction is still addiction. While some people feel that they are still functioning and somehow safe from the risks of the law and from addiction by maneuvering “behind the scenes,” if there is a physical and psychological dependence on the substance coupled with an inability to moderate or stop use, it is a problem that requires treatment.

There is no secret formula to drug use that makes it safe for consumption or fends off the risks of death due to overdose, accident, or other drug-related injury or disease. If addiction is a problem for you or someone you love, the time to get help is now.

What information do you need to take that first step from active addiction toward active recovery? What services will help you or your loved one to learn how to live drug-free and avoid the risks associated with untreated addiction?