To further combat the nationwide fentanyl crisis, special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) recently provided advanced darknet training to more than 100 state and local law enforcement personnel in Colorado’s Front Range this week.
HSI’s Cyber Crimes Center (C3) and the Illicit Finance and Proceeds of Crime Unit provided this training, which is designed to dismantle darknet marketplaces and illicit payment networks associated with fentanyl smuggling and their distribution organizations.
Colorado training classes took place in Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder.
“We are glad so many of our local partners could attend training on cryptocurrency and the dark web,” said Steven Cagen, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. “Agents and officers need to stay on the cutting edge of technology to thwart criminals and stop the insidious spread of fentanyl throughout our country.”
Training included information on the complexities and investigative challenges associated with these technologies, in addition to the potential for successful outcomes to criminal investigations. The instructors demonstrated how the current and popular anonymity of cryptocurrency tools work by providing thorough step-by-step demonstrations.
The morning session of the Denver and Front Range training tour focused on the dark web, popular sites and technologies used to find, purchase and distribute narcotics.
The afternoon session featured cryptocurrency training, including an introduction to more than 150 types of cryptocurrencies, blockchain ledgers and Bitcoin wallets.
This fiscal year, HSI has trained more than 4,000 law enforcement on cyber investigations, including dark web and cryptocurrency investigations.
Established in 1997 to combat crimes committed on, or facilitated by, the internet, C3 brings together highly technical assets dedicated to conducting trans-border criminal investigations. C3 is responsible for identifying and targeting any cybercrime activity in which HSI has jurisdiction. The C3 mission is fourfold:
- Keep pace with emerging computer technology and internet processes;
- Proactively use these new technologies to combat criminal activity and address vulnerabilities created by the internet;
- Disseminate to field offices and the worldwide law enforcement and intelligence organizations the most current trends, risks, procedures, lessons learned and investigative leads; and
- Support investigations into internet criminal activities and vulnerabilities with state-of-the-art cyber investigative methods and forensic techniques.
The Cyber Crimes Unit supports investigations related to financial fraud, money laundering, identity and benefit fraud, the online sale and distribution of narcotics and other controlled substances, network intrusion illegal arms trafficking and the illegal export of strategic/controlled commodities.
Recent investigations resulting in conviction that were spearheaded in the Denver office include an Australian national residing in Boulder who used cryptocurrency to launder money, and a Utah man who organized and directed a nationwide drug trafficking organization that imported opioids from China.