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Tag: Internet

DOJ Operation Leads to Largest Seizure of Drugs Sold on Darknet sites

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators have arrested dozens of people accused of trafficking drugs through Darknet sites, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The operation led to the seizure of more than $6.5 million in cash and virtual currencies, about 274 kilograms of drugs ranging from fentanyl and oxycodone to methamphetamine to heroin in the U.S., and 63 firearms.

The busts were part of operation DisrupTor, an international effort involving the Justice Department and law enforcement partners in Europe. It was the largest seizure of drugs sold online in U.S. history.

Darknet sites, which are on encrypted networks to make access difficult, have become a popular way to distribute illicit drugs.

“Criminals selling fentanyl on the Darknet should pay attention to Operation DisrupTor,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a news release. “The arrest of 179 of them in seven countries—with the seizure of their drug supplies and their money as well — shows that there will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace.”

“With the spike in opioid-related overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that today’s announcement is important and timely,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “The FBI wants to assure the American public, and the world, that we are committed to identifying Darknet drug dealers and bringing them to justice.  But our work does not end with today’s announcement. The FBI, through JCODE and our partnership with Europol, continues to be actively engaged in a combined effort to disrupt the borderless, worldwide trade of illicit drugs. The FBI will continue to use all investigative techniques and tools to identify and prosecute Darknet opioid dealers, wherever they may be located.”

Click here to read prepared remarks on the busts.

FBI: Ohio Teen Who Threatened Federal Agents Had 10,000 Rounds of Ammo in His House

Justin Olsen

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An 18-year-old Ohio man who went by the name “ArmyOfChrist” was arrested by the FBI for allegedly making online threats against federal law enforcement and Planned Parenthood.

Agents found about 10,000 rounds of ammunition, assault-style weapons and shotguns, according to an FBI affidavit.

The FBI began investigating Justin Olsen after discovering his iFunny account. In June, “ArmyOfChrist” posted, “shoot every federal agent on sight.”

The investigation was “based upon the observation by FBI Anchorage into multiple Internet postings in which ArmyOfChrist discussed supporting mass shootings, and assault and/or targeting of Planned Parenthood,” according to the affidavit.

In another post, he allegedly wrote, “Don’t comply with gun laws, stock up on stuff they could ban. In fact, go out of your way to break these laws.”

Olson was charged Monday with one count of threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer.

Olson insisted during interviews with federal authorities that he had no violent intentions and was being “hyperbolic.”

FBI Handled More Domestic Terrorism Cases Than International Terrorism This Fiscal Year

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The number of domestic terrorism arrests have exceeded international terrorism arrests in the current fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

Domestic cases were 66, compared to 63 international cases.

The trend has prompted the FBI to focus more of its attention on home-grown extremists, a senior FBI counterterrorism official told Reuters.

One recent attack in the U.S. involved a mass shooting that left 11 people dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Many of the attacks involve racially motivated and anti-government extremism, as well as attacks on abortion clinics.

The Internet has been a key source of radicalization in the U.S.

“Terrorism moves at the speed of the Internet,” the official said.

Feds Shut Down Backpage.com, Charge the Owner Amid Human Trafficking

Michael Lacey, a founder of Backpage.com.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities on Friday shut down and seized Backpage.com, a classifieds website that has drawn intense scrutiny for its sex ads, some of which included teenagers.

Michael Lacey, a founder of the website, was charged Friday in a 93-count indictment. Details of the charges, however, were sealed, and an attorney for Lacey couldn’t provide any more specifics in an interview with the Arizona Republic Federal authorities also raided Lacey’s home in Sedona, Ariz.

Backpage.com provides a place for people to sell items, seek roommates, list upcoming events or advertise jobs openings.

But its most lucrative service is in sex, with listings for adult escorts and other sex services. 

Justice Department Demands IP Addresses of Visitors to Anti-Trump Site

department-of-justice-logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has issued a warrant for records from a website used to organized protests against President Trump’s inauguration, but the web-hosting and domain registration company is putting up a fight.

DreamHost said the Justice Department filed a motion to force the company to release 1.3 million visitors’ IP addresses from disruptjj20.org, a website organized by a group of activists “building the framework needed for mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump.”

In a blogpost by DreamHost, the web hosting provider said the Justice Department’s request is unconstitutional and is seeking additional contact information, content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website. 

“Chris Ghazarian, our General Counsel, has taken issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution,” the blogpost reads.

It adds: “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

The Justice Department declined to respond to several news organizations’ requests for information.

Neighbor Hacked into College Students’ Wireless Account to Download Child Pornography

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Six years ago, FBI agents knocked on the door of three honor students at the University of California in Davis because the roommates’ AT&T wireless router was used to access child pornography.

“When it became pounding, I stumbled out to open the front door – to the complete and utter shock of having FBI agents on my front porch shoving a warrant in my face and suddenly appearing armed in my home,” Caitlin Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to the FBI two weeks ago, the Sacramento Bee reports. “Even thinking about it now, years later, my stomach starts to tighten.”

Turns out, the roommates’ 22-year-old neighbor was downloading child pornography by using “his great computer savvy” to hack into their password-protected wireless account, according to federal court records.

Today, the neighbor Alexander Nathan Norris is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Sacramento, where prosecutors are calling for a 17.5-year sentence on charges of possession and distribution of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

“This case is not a run-of-the mill child pornography case because the defendant hacked into and used his neighbors’ password-protected wireless internet to download and distribute child pornography, thereby roping innocent bystanders into his criminal activity,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Morris and Shelley Weger wrote in their sentencing memorandum to the judge.

“His actions caused the FBI to search his neighbors’ personal computers, cell phones, bedrooms and living space.”

FBI: Abduction Suspect Viewed Sexual Fetish Website Before Kidnapping

Abduction suspect Brendt Christensen, via LinkedIn.

Abduction suspect Brendt Christensen, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

About two months before police say he kidnapped a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois, the 28-year-old suspect appears to have visited the most popular sexual fetish networking site on the internet.

Brendt Allen Christensen was charged in the June 9 abduction of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang, who authorities believe is dead. On April 19, federal investigators said Christensen used his phone to visit FetLife.com, a forum that included threads called “Perfect abduction fantasy” and “planning a kidnapping,” CNN reports. 

Christensen, who remains behind bars, is expected in federal court in Urbana on Monday.

FetLife bills itself as “the Social Network for the BDSM, Fetish & Kinky Community” and was created in 2008 by Canadian software developer John Baku. Since then, the site claims to have more than 5 million registered members.

The site dubs itself as a “safe place for kinksters” and is only intended for consensual adults.

According to the FBI, Zhang was kidnapped during the day after she was running late to sign a lease. Authorities believe she agreed to hop in the case with Christensen, a stranger, after missing two buses.

During surveillance, the FBI said Christensen admitted to kidnapping the Chinese scholar.

Affidavit: FBI Took Over 23 Child Porn Sites As Part of International Sting

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI ran 23 child pornography websites as part of an investigation to catch pedophiles, according to newly unsealed documents.

It was revealed last year that the FBI took over a child pornography site called Playpen for 13 days to track users internationally. But an affidavit obtained by the ACLU shows that the FBI oversaw nearly two dozen child pornography sites as part of its “network investigate technique,” which is a form of dark web hacking, the New York Daily News reports. 

“While Websites 1-23 operate at a government facility, such request data associated with a user’s actions on Websites 1-23 will be collected,” a passage from the documents said.

“Such request data can be paired with data collected by the NIT, however, in order to attempt to identify a particular user and to determine that particular user’s actions on Websites 1-23.”

What’s unclear is whether the sites went live.