CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A West Virginia Senator is pushing for more investigations into fentanyl trafficking happening on the “dark web.”

The term “dark web” refers to parts of the internet that are only accessible using special software, and that, if used properly, allows users the browse anonymously and untraceably. As a result, it’s often used for selling illegal substances.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged the Biden Administration to prioritize cyber investigations into fentanyl trafficking.

This comes after the United States saw two back-to-back years that broke overdose death records: more than 107,000 in 2021 and 91,799 in 2020 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have been largely blamed by law enforcement for the increase in deadly overdoses.

One 2021 study identified more than 28,000 listings for opioid products posted on anonymous online marketplaces, according to a press release from Sen. Moore Capito’s office.

The letter that the senators sent acknowledged that the Attorney General’s Office, DEA and DHS have partnered with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation in an effort to target dark web opioid traffickers. They asked what the departments are doing to increase their capacity to conduct cyber investigations into fentanyl trafficking.

The letter also asked:

  1. What challenges or constraints has your Department faced in its efforts to stop fentanyl from entering communities across the United States through the dark web?
  2. How is your Department collaborating with other agencies to respond to fentanyl trafficking on the dark web?
  3. What steps has the Department taken, and what steps does it plan to take in the future, to stop fentanyl from making its way to American communities through the dark web?
  4. Has your Department considered how expanding cyber investigations into online fentanyl trafficking could help combat fentanyl trafficking? What steps, if any, has the Department taken to increase its capacity to conduct these kinds of investigations?
  5. What steps has your Department taken or does it plan to take to investigate and prevent the illicit movement of fentanyl precursors into the United States through the dark web?

Click here to read the full letter.