Authorities crack down on illegal drug vendors on the darknet

Posted: Updated:

Homeland Security Investigations says they arrested more than 35 alleged “darknet” vendors in an unprecedented infiltration known as “Operation Dark Gold.”

HSI says their agents infiltrated the cyber-community by taking over an already established vendor account on the darknet.

“For the past year, undercover agents participating as part of this collaborative team have been providing money laundering services for these darknet market vendors – specifically those that were involved in narcotics trafficking,” says Angel Melendez, of HSI.

The sweep resulted in the seizure of more than $20 million in cash and cryptocurrency, more than 100 guns and narcotics – including hundreds of thousands of pills.

Authorities say some of those arrested were using presses to make drugs in their homes. They then conducted sales on the dark web using cryptocurrency like bitcoins, and then used the U.S. Post Office to mail the drugs to buyers’ homes.

HSI says they want to send a message to people who use the darknet for illegal activity.

"The focus of this operation was not only to infiltrate the darknet marketplaces, but was to focus our efforts on the bad actors. On the people utilizing the darknet to carry out their criminal activity, and specifically, to sell drugs,” says Melendez.

Dimitri Tseperkas, 22, and Cihad Akkaya, 22, of Middle Island and Port Jefferson, respectively, were charged in the case.

Authorities say they were running their drug operation from Mount Sinai. News 12 learned that home was at the intersection of Wheat Path Road West and Chestnut Street.

Melendez says the two were “specifically involved in a marijuana distribution ring.” He said that authorities also recovered three loaded shotguns from the home.

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