Recently published results from the Global Drug Survey (GDS) reveal that the number of drug users buying drugs on the Dark Web is increasing. This, despite FBI attempts to seize and shut down online marketplaces which deal in narcotics.
Monica Baratt, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Australia:
“Despite all of the disruptions from law enforcement efforts and takedowns that have been successful, as well as the exit scams and all of this kind of thing, people are still using these sites to access drugs.”
The Dark Web (aka Deep Dark Web) is a hidden underground where people go to carry on illicit activities, such as buying drugs and guns, as well as access illegal pornographic materials. Some public Internet websites even offer how-to descriptions of ways to garner drugs and other illegal items on the Dark Web.
In general, more persons worldwide are using the Dark Web to obtain illicit drugs, and some areas have seen stark increases.
8,058 GDS respondents out of 101,313 (8%) admitted using the dark web to source drugs. And due to fear of being discovered, that number is likely under reported. Regardless, that is an increase of 61% since 2015 (5,000) and quadruple that of 2014 (2000).
“We seem to have a pattern over time in the last three years of the Nordic countries [such as Sweden] reporting a much higher proportion of people using the dark net than most of the other countries.”
“We can see that upward trend there. It’s there for almost all the countries except for Australia and New Zealand.”
Other findings reveal that many of those who garner drugs from the Dark Web don’t actually use Tor or spend bitcoins – rather, someone else buys the drugs for them.
In fact, 41% of the group never actually used the market themselves, but instead was part of a group buy. Meaning, one person handles the technical aspects of obtaining the drugs for the rest. Also, most users only obtained drugs from one market
First time users of a specific drug accounted for 79% of the total. Cannabis and MDMA are the most commonly bought drugs, which is probably better than some of the alternatives, such heroin, meth, or cocaine.
Respondents to the GDS are asked several questions about their drug use, buying practices, and demographics. Keep in mind that participants have already reported interest in drugs, so the results do not represent the U.S. population as a whole.
It does, however, offer insight into the habits of those who are technologically ahead of others in terms of drug allocation. In fact, GDS recruit younger, very involved drug-using populations, and is therefore able to spot emerging trends before they go mainstream.