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Government Claims Crackdown On Tor: “We will catch you”

Since the seizure and demise of the deep web drug bazaar, Silk Road, federal law enforcement has made monumental claims, concerning their aims to crack down on ‘darknet’-based crime. Silk Road largely operated through a web browser, which was originally developed by US Naval Intelligence, called Tor. It is a program that conceals the identities of its users through bouncing their information through a massive network of servers.

Once an operator appears on the other side of this network, his or her information is undistinguished, making it impossible to identify the operator. This means, that if law enforcement agencies wanted to crack down on crimes that originate from the darknet, then they have to know how to penetrate and surveil these kinds of networks.

According to an Oct 22 story from USA Today, Donna Leinwand Leger reports on the claims, made by upper echelons of British law enforcement:

“These arrests send a clear message to criminals: The hidden Internet isn’t hidden, and your anonymous activity isn’t anonymous. We know where you are, what you are doing and we will catch you,” Keith Bristow, director of Britain’s National Crime Agency, said after the arrest Oct. 8 of four men for alleged drug offenses.

The understanding that cooperating law enforcement agencies seem to be portraying is that they are making progress at monitoring the darknet. Leger writes in her opening paragraph:

“But a series of arrests this month, including the bust of the black market site Silk Road, shows the G-men have infiltrated the Internet’s back alley.”

However, recent reports suggest that law enforcement is still major strides away from cracking these deep web networks. Cyber crime experts, such as the head of the Australian chapter of the International Association of Cybercrime Prevention and executive chairman of the Internet Fraud Watchdog, Ken Gamble, are not convinced that law enforcement is any closer to their darknet surveillance objectives. On Oct 25, Iain Gillespie of the Sydney Morning Herald writes:

“Asked if law-enforcement bodies are making progress in tracking down the false IP addresses generated by Tor, Gamble replies with an emphatic ”no”. He says the only answer is for darknet law enforcement to be privatised.”

Gamble continues:

“Law-enforcement bodies can only operate within their own jurisdictions and enforce the laws that apply within their own countries. They will never win the battle against international cyber crime without bringing in private agencies to help.”

In fact, when Edward Snowden leaked classified information in the summer of 2013, documents revealed that even the NSA was not able to scratch the surface of the Tor network. While they may be able to do some investigative work, it takes massive amounts of resources and time to track a single individual. As for tracking the masses, even the NSA admits that they are not even close.

Even in the case of taking down Silk Road, the FBI was forced to use conventional, real-world methods, such as sting operations, informants, staged assassinations, and the physical seizure of servers. As for their claims on peeling back the ‘Onion Network’ of Tor, it may be more of a bluff than a promise.


  1. Greetings. Please Ask someone how to make a sale of illegal goods through tor. I’m not a cop. In evolution, I realized that I need to transport at least 0.5 btc which is half of the monthly salary. I understand that trying to maintain security. Do you know of something like classical advertising? I know it’s a stupid question. I just goods, but I do not 0.5btc. They say that back. Just not certain if tomorrow will not be the end. Here it can not sell .. not because of fízlům, but what can rob you bastards … I can not afford it. Thanks for any advice.

    Ps: I apologize for errors in translation (GOOG. Tr.)

  2. They can’t penetrate the toe network and its up relays to isolate and locate a specific ip tied to a specific individual , all they can do ( which is what they are doing) is agents are buying off of tor marketplaces and using traditional methods to get clues on the whereabouts and the identities of dark market vendors. They will order from a vendor , first they will fingerprint all contents of the delivered package in hopes of a vendor slipping and leaving a print somewhere , next they check the postage to locate which ‘sort faculty’ the package originated from, dea will build a relationship with a vendor making several orders , conversing with the vendor then perhaps asking about the possibility of performing a transaction outside of Bitcoin using money gram due to their inaccessibility to acquire more btc. This is where a high volume sr1 and sr2 vendor by the screen name of “caligirl” came to meet his ultimate demise. He instructed to the agent , if he wanted to acquire the necessary btc to complete a transaction for about 4000 usd worth of oxycodone he could contact caligirls guy who would be able to facilitate the transaction of btc via a bank deposit of the funds in exchange for the required btc. Agent was given a phone number to contact and upon reaching this individual with the btc was given directions on making a cash deposit into a Bank of America account , agent was given strict instruction not to disclose to the bank what the deposit was for , upon completion to take a picture of the receipt showing the deposit was made send it to the cell number of the contact provided after which the btc would be released , funding the agents purchase. Upon doing so the agent knew the sort faculty the packages were originating, he was able to compare the routing number provided by the contact given by caligirl for the btc purchase and narrow down all were from the same location in tx. They were able to see that several intercepted parcels from the sort faculty had been dropped off at a similar time ; 6:30 pm . The agents contacted the usps office the fed the sort faculty of interest and the postmaster supplied them with photographic evidence of the individual who purchased the postage from the in location kiosk as well as the debit card used to pay for the postage . The debit card proved that the Bank of America account agent deposited the cash in exchange for the btc was that account. To gain additional evidence for probable cause agents did an audit of “caligirls” ip , revealing purchases on Amazon for buble wrap mailers and Mylar vacuumed seal pouches . They audited bank and travel records revealing transferes to an account in Columbia that equalled just below the dollar value for the transactions to be considered tax evasions . Travel records showed several trips to Columbia by caligirl every two month or so. On a return trip by caligirl from Columbia agents ordered a search of his luggage , returning 1000’s of oxycodone tablets in various supplement bottles. Caligirls residence was searched turning up 75,000 used in cash , half a kg of mdma and some cocaine I believe. They determined that caligirl had acquired through the numerous sales on the site roughly 1.5 million in btc over the past year.

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