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Jeff Sessions wants to stop dark web drug sales

Attorney General Jeff Sessions loves the drug war, and he's ready to fight it in a new theater of battle: the dark web.

Sessions' Department of Justice has announced the creation of the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement team (super cool acronym for all the kids out there: J-CODE), which the FBI says will work on "disrupting the sale of drugs via the darknet and dismantling criminal enterprises that facilitate this trafficking."

How that will happen, FiveThirtyEight reports, is not clear. Past FBI efforts in this area have been less than stellar. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union obtained FBI documents in 2016 that revealed that the agency took control of about half of the dark web's child pornography sites and then continued to operate them out of federal facilities in an attempt to catch their anonymous users. In many of the resulting trials, the evidence collected via this ethical morass was deemed inadmissible.

The dark web drug war will pose significant challenges beyond those inherent in the larger war on drugs, which after half a century shows no effect on addiction rates. First, when one dark web site goes down, another reliably springs up to take its place. And second, as cybersecurity researcher Eric Jardine told FiveThirtyEight, this issue is "global in terms of its potential spread and facilitation." The internet is everywhere, so fighting dark net drug sales just in the U.S. is likely a futile project.