The Global Drug Survey and its lead researcher Monica Barratt have found that highly educated young users have been leading illicit dark web narcotics trade over the past year.
According to the findings of the Global Drug Survey, users of dark web that order illicit drugs and narcotics using darknet marketplaces are likely to be male, young and recipients of high level education.
“They are a highly educated group. It’s not necessarily the sort of drugs supply that is accessed by all kinds of people who use drugs. Naturally, people who don’t have this kind of quite sophisticated technology available can’t really just go onto the darknet and press a button and get a drug delivered. There’s a lot more that you have to do, in terms of having Bitcoin, having a fixed address where you can actually receive the package and so on, so it’s not necessarily open to all groups in society,” said Barratt.
Earlier in May, award-winning business journalist Anthony Hilton stated that the majority of dark web and darknet marketplaces operate as well-structured global criminal networks. Each illicit drug marketplace listed on the dark web has its own independent supply chain of growers, producers, finance, logistics, distribution and sales. For financing, highly educated young dark web users and computer experts rely on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero to incentivize distributors and sellers.
To distribute and obtain drugs, sellers and buyers utilize remote locations that are often faraway from the actual pickup point of the drugs to circumvent potential investigations led by local law enforcement and police agencies.
Barratt told Sputnik Radio in an exclusive interview and also noted on the Global Drug Survey 2017 report that the abovementioned process of financing drug traders and selecting remote pickup points for drug delivery require highly educated young drug users that are heavily involved in dark web trading, marketplaces and digital currencies.
Hilton also noted that young specialists participate in illegal dark web drug trades by leveraging their expertise in computing and development. As a result, tracking down dark web criminals and drug traders on the dark web has become increasingly difficult for law enforcement.
“It divides into software specialists, distributors of that software, hackers, network specialists and financial experts capable of handling and laundering the ill-gotten gains. It has middlemen and subcontractors who will offer hacking services to organisations that lack the required skills themselves,” wrote Hilton.
However, Barratt emphasized that Bitcoin can’t be condemned as the root cause or driving factor of dark web drug trading. Bitcoin is not anonymous in nature and with the utilization of Bitcoin transaction untangling software and the help of anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC)-compliant Bitcoin exchanges, it is possible for law enforcement agencies to trace transactions originated from dark web and dark net marketplaces.
Also, most Bitcoin wallets including Blockchain offer users the option to disable transactions coming from the Tor network. Hence, using this feature, law enforcement agencies can differentiate wallets connected to the Tor network to those that aren’t. More importantly, Barratt explained that Tor gateways could be deanonymized in the future.
“I wouldn’t say that Bitcoin is anonymous, it’s actually incredibly open in the sense that the blockchain is available for anyone to view but all you can really see there is a transaction that went from point A to point B, you can’t really see who owned the wallet. Tor is not necessarily going to be anonymous when the gateways for Tor can actually be monitored.”