Since the United States government declared the “War on Drugs” several decades ago, the battlefield field and combatants in that war have changed considerably. In the age of the internet, drug transactions no longer need to involve in-person exchanges. In fact, the “Dark Web” offers the ultimate platform for anonymous and secret drug transactions. If you are being investigated for, or have been charged with, a Dark Web drug conspiracy it is imperative that you understand the serious nature of charges involved and the potential penalties if you are convicted.
At Haas Law, we understand the complex and ever-changing laws and procedures related to federal Dark Web drug conspiracy investigations and prosecutions. We also have the commitment and experienced necessary to defend you and your rights if you are charged in a federal Dark Web drug conspiracy prosecution.
Drug Trafficking in the 21st Century – The Dark Web Explained
For as long as the illegal drug trade has existed, the basic components of a drug trafficking operation did not change much until recently. Drugs were exchanged for cash which then needed to be laundered. To protect themselves, those higher up in a drug trafficking organization used low-level employees to make the in-person exchanges. A variety of creative solutions were then used to launder the cash, including “washing” it by running it through legitimate businesses. All of this increased the organization’s exposure which, in turn, increased the risk of discovery and indictment.
The advent of the internet created a new way to conduct illegal drug transactions – using the “Dark Web.” Online markets, such as the infamous Silk Road, allow buyers and sellers of drugs to remain anonymous because they are accessible only through the “Tor” (The Onion Router) browser. Tor is a software program that was designed to disguise the IP address of a person browsing online. Without an IP address, it is extremely difficult to track a user’s physical location. The anonymity offered by the Dark Web has opened up a new way for drug traffickers to conduct business. Not only does the Tor browser make it more difficult to identify the participants in a drug transaction, but the invention of “cryptocurrencies” such as bitcoin also made it possible to collect the proceeds of a drug sale without the need to launder cash. AlphaBay, one of Silk Road’s most popular successors, was estimated to have facilitated over $1 billion in transactions before it was shut down by the FBI after just two-short years.
Potential Penalties for Dark Web Drug Conspiracy Charges
Recently, the FBI created the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement Team, or J-CODE, in response to the increased use of the Dark Web for drug trafficking. J-CODE was specifically formed to target illegal opioid distribution on the internet. Although the Dark Web has made it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to catch the parties involved in drug transactions “red-handed,” those involved in the drug trade can face the same penalties if charged in a drug conspiracy. 21 U.S.C. 846 governs the criminal offenses of attempt and conspiracy, reading as follows:
Any person who attempts or conspires to commit any offense defined in this subchapter shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt or conspiracy.
To convict a defendant of conspiracy to commit a drug crime, the prosecution must prove three elements:
- That an agreement to commit the crime existed
- Intent to commit the crime
- An overt act in furtherance of the agreement
If you are convicted of conspiracy to traffic heroin, cocaine, or another illegal drug, you will face the same penalties as you would if you had been charged and convicted of actually trafficking the drugs.
Get Help from Experienced Dark Web Drug Conspiracy Defense Attorney
If you believe you are the target of a federal online drug conspiracy investigation, or you have been charged with a drug conspiracy, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced federal Dark Web drug conspiracy defense attorney immediately.
At Haas Law, our Dark Web drug conspiracy defense attorneys will work tirelessly to protect your rights and defend you against any charges filed by the government. With virtually unlimited resources at its disposal, the federal government can be a formidable adversary; however, we have the experience, resources, and commitment needed to protect and defend you.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.