About 300 persons from New Zealand were identified by law enforcement authorities during a global police action called Operation Hyperion. The worldwide action took place between October 22 and 28. This was a “coordinated effort” to bust persons globally who are involved in illegal drugs trade on the dark web.
Police and customs focused in the country prioritized screening for illegal drugs transported by the nation’s postal service, tracking the packages to both the buyers and the vendors of illicit substances. Seized drugs included cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, alpha-PVP, LSD, ecstasy, and cannabis seeds.
Authorities claim that almost 300 people involved in the dark net narcotics trade had been identified, six arrested, and 66 formal warnings given. 160 persons were already questioned (“identified and spoken to”) by law enforcement authorities. One person faces 13 charges for importing LSD, ecstasy and cannabis.
Wellington Police also charged a person in connection with creating the now defunct dark net marketplace Vic Underworld (known also as NZ Underworld). When the site was running, you could mostly find painkillers, party drugs and fake doctors’ scripts. The 22-year-old man will appear in the Wellington District Court on Friday 4 November.
“Operation Hyperion was initiated by U.S. federal law enforcement, the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) and members of Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, as the first step in developing a more unified global law enforcement response to the growing usage of the Darknet by individuals seeking to buy and sell illicit drugs and other illegal goods and services,” a statement on the website of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement goes by.
“While illegal drugs continue to be the biggest item purchased and sold on Darknet marketplaces, law enforcement agencies around the world are also seeing counterfeit prescription drugs and other counterfeit items, dangerous and deadly synthetic drugs like Fentanyl, deadly toxins, fake and stolen identities, identity documents and stolen credit card data, as well as illegal services like computer hacking, murder for hire and money laundering,” the statement continues, listing all important illegal products and services, which can be purchased on the dark web.
US partners in Operation Hyperion included the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and other minor law enforcement authorities.
Also, the Europol, the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency; Australian Federal Police; New Zealand Police and New Zealand Customs Service; Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Post and Canada Border Services Agency; The Netherlands; French Customs National Intelligence and Investigations Directorate; Finnish Customs; Swedish Police Authority and Swedish Customs; Ireland’s Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau; and Spain’s Guardia Civil participated in the action as international partners.
The whole operation was supported by CBP’s National Targeting Center and coordinated by HSI’s Cyber Division.