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What You Can't Buy, Can't Kill You

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2019, $641,016)

The proposed project is a research collaboration between the UAB Computer Forensics Research and the Forensic Drug Chemistry Labs to build cyber intelligence methods to discover, disrupt, and disseminate information on illicit fentanyl markets on unencrypted (Clearnet) websites. The project will provide a proof-of-concept demonstration of the use of open-source intelligence technology (OSINT) and trained analysts to: (1) identify bulk suppliers of non-pharmaceutical fentanyls (NPF) and disrupt entry of their goods into the U.S. or block access to precursor chemicals used in the manufacturing of synthetic opioids; and to (2) identify the social network locations where drug conversations are likely to occur and find accounts selling in those places to disrupt the street level distribution of NPFs. Drug intelligence analysts will be able to detect and identify online drug search terms and illicit sales content; and drug chemists will advise the development of key word terms to identify non/matching terms. Information on raw fentanyl suppliers and distributors will be disseminated to federal agencies to target the source, and information on cut street drugs will be disseminated to social media platforms to terminate user accounts. The data may be used to identify trends and emerging drugs for alerts to law enforcement, poison control, emergency medical services, and medical examiners. Geographic data for the online sources and vendors will be shared with the partnering medical examiner offices in Alabama, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Ohio to determine the time between the first mention and a fatal overdose. Criminal intelligence will be provided to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Cybercrime Investigation Unit to share with other law enforcement agencies.

"Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 13, 2019