The US federal government and its law enforcement agencies are focusing on the crackdown on illicit drug trading which occurs on the dark web on a daily basis. Investigators have become increasing concerned over the engagement of young adults and teenagers in illicit dark web drug trading and how easy it is to obtain illegal products and services on darknet marketplaces with complete anonymity.
In an exclusive interview with a local Omaha publication 3NewsNow, Kirby Plessas, a dark web expert and founder of Plessas Experts Network, explained that an average user of the dark web is able to purchase or sell drugs on darknet marketplaces within 20 minutes, with the usage of bitcoin.
According to Plessas, drugs such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana are readily available on darknet marketplaces, which are rather difficult to obtain through regulated channels and local markets. She further explained that traders or drug distributors on the dark web are ranked based on their previous transactions and history of trading.
Through the dark web’s Amazon-like merchant ranking system, traders can be assured of the quality of the services and products they acquire through the anonymous dark web.
However, the investigations of the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the US revealed that the abovementinoed ranking system which exists on the dark web is the core issue with the dark web and the engagement of teenagers in illicit trading. According to a teenager who was sentenced for purchasing and distributing drugs on the dark web, a lot of traders at his age, 17, engage themselves in illicit dark web activities to obtain identity and reputation in the anonymous network, often because they are left isolated from their respective communities.
“it made me popular I enjoyed the feeling. I looked up to those users with the best reputations,” the teenager told NCA.
Over the past few years, both distributors and buyers of drugs on the dark web have figured out unique methods of receiving drugs internationally without ever leaving their identities at risk and vulnerable to law enforcement investigations.
To begin with, a buyer purchases bitcoin through over-the-counter markets or bitcoin ATMs due to the strict Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) systems integrated into the infrastructure of regulated bitcoin exchanges. Once bitcoin is acquired through an unregulated channel, it is sent to the distributor who then sends packed drugs via conventional methods of shipping.
However, distributors often select abandoned houses and buildings to send drugs to their recipients to prevent the surveillance of law enforcement agencies. In fact, Barbara Roach, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for the Denver Field Division stated that distributors often send drugs to a random person’s house to avoid potential issues.
“Sometimes it’s dropped off at somebody’s house and the owner doesn’t even know because the buyer is waiting to grab the package when it arrives. This is extremely serious.”
Roach further emphasized that the shipping of small amounts of drugs are even harder to trace and crackdown. Therefore, law enforcement agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration and NCA are beginning to crackdown on illicit dark web drug trading by issuing strict warnings against young people who are involved in dark web activities.
Richard Jones, Head of the National Cyber Crime Unit’s Prevent team, said:
“Even the most basic forms of cyber crime can have huge impacts and the NCA and police will arrest and prosecute offenders, which can be devastating to their future. That means there is great value in reaching young people before they ever become involved in cyber crime, when their skills can still be a force for good.”