Online Drugs Trade Needs Surgical Strikes

October 25, 2016

Despite shutdown of Silk Road by the FBI in 2013, online drug trade through Dark Net is thriving. Only military-precision like surgical strikes on vendors and marketplaces using technological methods can solve this problem.

RAND Corporation in its research papaer titled Taking Stock of the Online Drugs Trade says that –

Illegal drug transactions on cryptomarkets have tripled since 2013, with revenues doubling. But at $12-21 (€10.5-18.5) million a month, this is clearly a niche market compared to the traditional offline market, estimated at $2.3 (€2) billion a month in Europe alone.

The primary goal of the research paper was to determine first, the size and scope of cryptomarkets and second, to device avenues for law enforcement agencies to intervene these illegal practices. Though the report covered the entire Europe, the role of Netherlands, in particular, was studied in this report. This was owing to the fact that Netherlands has the highest rate of consumption of drugs acquired using cryptomarkets.

Some interesting findings of the report include –

  • Though revenues have doubled, drug cryptomarkets are still niche and generate revenues of $21 million/month as compared to $2.1 billion in offline trade.
  • Cannabis still is the most in demand followed by stimulants like cocaine and ecstasy-type drugs
  • Vendors from US, Australia, Canada and Western Europe dominate the online marketplace

Apart from following the conventional methods of disrupting the drug trade (dismantling logistics, undercover operations, and taking down marketplaces), the only new method suggested includes the use of Big Data techniques.

Cryptomarkets are going to thrive, and the only way to tackle this threat is by following the money (in this case, the cryptocurrencies). But who is going to bell the cat?

Vishal Ingole, October 25, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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