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Indiana State Police: Darknet Crime Like a Game of Whack-a-Mole

For a police force, the Indiana State Police played a larger role in fighting cybercrime than many others. The Cyber and Intelligence Division ran several programs over the past few years that promoted online awareness. They focussed on the protection of children and the advancement of law enforcement’s scope. OSINT, cryptocurrency, and methods stalkers used for cyberstalking commonly came up in a reference to the department. Their scope, though, recently grew deeper after the darknet took the blame for a young man’s heroin overdose.

The darknet, of course, had no say in the matter. The former University of Arkansas student succumbed to narcotic abuse well before the fatal overdose. As a freshman at the school, William Doerhoff battled opioid addiction for the first year. “Fueling his addiction, Doerhoff purchased his poison online – and by the end of the year, he was hooked,” a news outlet wrote.

Now serving as another face for opioid addiction, William Doerhoff died of an overdose at 20-years-old. Despite the fact that Chuck Cohen, head of the Indiana State Police’s Cyber and Intelligence Division, placed much of the emphasis on the darknet, the 20-year-old struggled without it as well. His last overdose, the fatal overdose, was not the young man’s first. In an interview about the “heroin epidemic and the darknet,” his mother described a 2015 overdose.

He lived to tell the tale, though, thanks to the paramedics. “I looked around, and there’s a little piece of foil on the bed and a little bitty plastic tube, and I’m like, ‘What is this?’ And they all looked at me, you know, like, ‘It looks like heroin,’” said his mother, Shannon Doerhoff. William spent a year in recovery before he fatally relapsed.

“As a parent, you know, you just knew. You knew what happened. And it just — there’s just no way to describe. It’s not really a pain that you feel, it’s like you don’t even know how to exist at that moment because everything that you’d ever done in your entire life, the entire meaning of your life, really, which is to protect your children, had just been taken from you,” his father, Scott Doerhoff, said

Shortly after the death of their son, they learned that he purchased the heroin “on the so-called dark web.” Chuck Cohen spoke also about the “startling trend that is sweeping the nation.” He called criminal investigation on the darknet a “game of whack-a-mole.”

“We’re seeing not just heroin, but other opioids – ranging from Fentanyl to Carfentanil, Opana and others – that are being shipped with great regularity, with the purchase happening in the dark web. The money transactions happen with a crypto currency, and the shipment is being concealed. So, it makes it difficult, increasingly, for us to do those investigations.”

Fox News, the story’s main and possibly only coverage, said that half the struggle in ordering heroin is downloading free software and “popular addons like Tor.” Cohen demonstrated the so-called simplicity of ordering heroin on the darknetmarkets. “If I wanted to go in here, and I wanted to buy a sampler pack of heroin, it’s going to cost. I click ‘buy now,’ I’m going to log in and create an account – I can do it completely anonymously. Go to my wallet, I give them that, they debit it and, in theory, I’m going to get my heroin in the mail,” he explained to Fox News.

He further explained how vendors cared little-to-nothing about their customers, only about the money. “I can get it shipped to me in a child’s toy or in a computer or in a box full of fruit or whatever that might be. And I can continue to live this lifestyle, but nobody will know. But the person from some global point around the world doesn’t care about John Jones living in rural Indiana, do they? All they care about is the Bitcoin transaction and getting paid for what they do.”

Law enforcement believes that the way opioid addiction​ will die down will come from public education. Given the statement Cohen gave regarding fentanyl and carfentanil, there should not be a surprise when we start seeing local City Police handling entire darknet busts by themselves. Currently we see, albeit with a few exceptions, the federal government conducting takedowns. Once every city in the United States gets a competent Cyber and Intelligence Division, the forces against buyers and sellers will increase.

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