online drug sales have tripled since the closure of silk road

According to a new study, interventions have done little to stymy the dark web industry.

by Amy Campbell
Aug 11 2016, 6:37am

It's not exactly your typical method of e-commerce, but the "cryptomarket," - or, your online haven for all things illegal - is reportedly burgeoning. According to a collaborative report by the University of Manchester and the University of Montreal, since Internet drug-giant Silk Road was closed by the FBI in 2013, the revenue collected from online narcotic sales has doubled globally.

Despite attempting to limit the activity of the "dark web" by shutting down drug-selling platforms like Silk Road, efforts made by law-enforcement agencies are only quickening the pace of drug transactions made via the Internet. According to the 203-page-long study, users are buying drugs faster than they ever have, with the report concluding shoppers are operating "under the assumption these sites could close at any moment."

The report suggests that the increase in sales online is also facilitating the drug market offline, saying dealers are taking advantage of the privacy these online platforms offer, before selling the drugs to clients on the street. Cryptomarket sites operate on hidden services, so users can browse and buy anonymously and securely.

Cannabis emerged as the most purchased drug on the Internet, making up one-third of all sales. The study also found drug dealers in the UK were earning more than their competitors worldwide, claiming a 16 percent share of the global digital drugs market.

Stijn Hoorens, a research leader at RAND Europe and author of the report, said the impact of cryptomarkets remains largely unclear. "Some have argued that cryptomarkets reduce violence from the drug supply chain, but others believe that it may offer a new, often young consumer base easy access to drug markets."

According to this year's Global Drug Survey, around 8,000 respondents (approximately 10 per cent of participants) bought drugs online regularly, a huge increase on the 5,000 that claimed to have bought drugs via the Internet last year. 


Text Amy Campbell
Photography Jamie

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