Street-level Drug dealers have shifted from street dealing to online sales because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.
The Darkweb (a section of the internet that is only accessible with a special software called TOR) listings surged by 495 per cent in recent months, as the lock-downs have forced dealers to find alternative ways of moving products.
There are increase in listings in different categories, cannabis postings grew by 555 per cent, while postings for MDMA increased by 224 per cent. Listings for cocaine, surged by as much as 1,000 per cent between December 2019 and April 2020.
A 17-page report by cyber intelligence firm Sixgill, monitored the frequency of seller listings and buyer feedback between 23 December 2019 and 27 April 2020.
According to Sixgill, “The supply-side growth reflects a mass shift from street-level dealing to the digital underground as the pandemic emptied streets and public places.”
“Like all consumers, dark web shoppers may have been driven to online shopping due to fear of physical contact.”
When compared to other sections of the dark web, there was tremendous growth in drugs, comparing the feedback shows this.
It is not clear why demand for drugs online only rose modestly, with the researchers speculating that it could be as a result of buyers being more cautious about using the internet to buy illegal drugs.
“The dynamics that played out in the underground illicit drug trade mirrored those in legitimate online sectors,” the report concluded.
“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 underground.”