DURING CORONAVIRUS: DARK WEB DRUG OPERATIONS ON THE INTERNET ALMOST 500% DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
Sales of cannabis, cocaine and MDMA surged during the isolation as dealers sought alternative ways to distribute their products.
According to new research, drug dealers have shifted from street-level dealing to online sales during the coronavirus pandemic.
Listings for illegal drugs on the dark web – a hidden section of the internet that is only accessible with specialist software – surged by 495 per cent in recent months, as lockdowns forced dealers to seek alternative ways of distributing their products.
Cannabis sales on illicit marketplaces grew by 555 per cent, while postings for MDMA jumped by 224 per cent.
Dark web drug supply surges during Covid-19 crisis
The biggest increase, however, was in listings for cocaine, which surged by 1,000 per cent between December and April.
The researchers said “The supply-side growth reflects a mass shift from street-level dealing to the digital underground as the pandemic empty streets and public places”.
Trade in stolen credit cards, account details and other dark web staples remained stable during the same period, suggesting that coronavirus containment measures were the reason behind the surge in drug listings.
It is harder to gauge the number of actual sales that took place, as no such data is publicly available, though the amount of product feedback indicates significant growth.
“The underground illicit drug trade serves as a microcosm for these broader global dynamics. In its adaptability to the crisis, it highlighted the increasing reliance of criminal networks on the internet, and the increasing need to put our ear to the internet’s deep web.”