A 37-year-old Halifax man has been charged with trafficking drugs internationally on the dark-web following what police say was a lengthy investigation which involved several RCMP agencies and the United States Department of Homeland Security.
In a media release on Friday, police described the investigation, titled Operation Hackstone, as “first of its kind.”
Police said the process began in February, when Nova Scotia RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) received information from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in the United States regarding a Nova Scotia-based individual that was exporting opioids across the border and throughout Canada.
“The suspect was advertising the sale of illegal opioids through online darknet websites and receiving payment by way of cryptocurrency,” a statement from police read.
The dark web is an internet browser that allows private computer networks to communicate and conduct business anonymously and is accessed through specific software.
Police said several methods were used throughout the investigative process including physical surveillance and an “undercover operation.”
Amid the search, which received additional assistance from RCMP divisions in Quebec, Ontario, and the National RCMP Cybercrime Investigative Team, investigators determined that a Halifax man was sending drugs through the mail across Canada and internationally to the United States.
“A number of packages were intercepted by law enforcement officials in Canada and the United States,” police said.
Search warrants were executed at various locations throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality — resulting in the seizure of a 2021 Toyota Rav4, hydromorphone, Dexedrine, ketamine, MDMA, Xanax and other prescription medications, receipts, shipping labels, packaging and electronic devices, according to police.
Police said they also were able to seize digital cryptocurrency wallets and obtained data from the suspect’s electronic devices that were consistent with drug trafficking.
On Aug. 30, John Nicholas Allen-Simec was arrested and has since been charged with the following offences:
- trafficking a controlled substance – hydromorphone (three counts);
- trafficking a controlled substance – amphetamine;
- exporting a controlled substance from Canada – hydromorphone (five counts);
- exporting a controlled substance from Canada – amphetamine;
- possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking (two counts);
- possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of exporting (two counts).
“Criminal actors are relentless in their attempts to exploit the anonymity of the Dark Web to traffic illicit drugs into our communities,” said Magdalena Sigur, Homeland Security Investigations Attaché, in a statement.
“Operation Hackstone is an excellent example of HSI’s close partnership with Nova Scotia RCMP and the results that can be accomplished through international unified efforts.”
Allen-Simec was released on conditions and will appear in Halifax Provincial Court on Nov. 6.
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