The nefarious websites, where narcotics and weapons are sold, open and close rapidly to elude authorities, but MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence has augmented a tool, created by a defense research agency, that has led to increased arrests.
FBI and intelligence officials declined to comment publicly about specific operations, but they privately acknowledge excitement about efforts against the darknet that involve some of the world’s most advanced pattern recognition technology.
“We’re lighting up parts of the internet that exist beyond the reach of mainstream search engines,” a former U.S. intelligence official told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity.
Major darknet stings in recent weeks include the shuttering of two of the world’s largest illegal drug sites — Wall Street Market and Valhalla — where dealers peddled opioids such as fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
In the Wall Street Market crackdown, the FBI and European and South American law enforcement partners worked for nearly two years to “hunt for even the tiniest of breadcrumbs to identify criminals on the darkweb,” U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott said.
FBI and Europol operatives notched another major victory last week when they dismantled