RI man among 150 Americans charged in darknet drug trafficking sting

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence man was among the dozens of people who were arrested as part of a coordinated international effort to stunt the sale of narcotics on the dark web.

Back in January, Europol and the U.S. Department of Justice joined forces as part of “Operation Dark HunTor,” an opioid trafficking investigation spanning three continents, according to a joint news release from the two agencies.

The months-long investigation led to the arrest of 150 alleged darknet drug traffickers and other suspects from countries including Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, the release said.

“This 10-month massive international law enforcement operation spanned across three continents and involved dozens of U.S. and international law enforcement agencies to send one clear message to those hiding on the darknet peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet. We can and we will shine a light,” U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said.

“‘Operation Dark HunTor’ prevented countless lives from being lost to this dangerous trade in illicit and counterfeit drugs, because one pill can kill,” she continued. “The Department of Justice with our international partners will continue to crack down on lethal counterfeit opioids purchased on the darknet.”

The majority of the suspects were from the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice said 65 Americans are facing charges in connection with the investigation, including Providence resident Alex Ogando.

Ogando, 35, was taken into custody earlier this year, when the FBI searched his home and found $350,000 in cash and about 2,000 grams of pressed pills containing fentanyl.

He’s charged with conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, according to the news release.

Throughout the investigation, authorities recovered nearly $32 million in cash, 45 firearms and an estimated 4 million deadly doses of fentanyl among the 500 pounds of illicit drugs seized.

“The point of operations such as the one is to put criminals operating on the dark web on notice: the law enforcement community has the means and global partnerships to unmask them and hold them accountable for their illegal activities, even in areas of the dark web,” Europol’s Deputy Executive Director of Operations Jean-Philippe Lecouffe said.

The U.S. Department of Justice said a number of investigations connected to “Operation Dark HunTor” are ongoing.

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Providence

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