Darknet Markets and Drugs in the US: A Brief Overview
When compared to the regular online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay that most of us are familiar with, a darknet marketplace is really no different in terms of how it is meant to operate. Darknet marketplaces, on the other hand, provide users with complete privacy.
These marketplaces, as well as the dark web itself, can be accessed in a variety of ways, including by downloading free browsers like Tor. These sites have onion addresses that aren’t accessible via a regular browser and aren’t included in Google’s index but are available through Tor.
Popular Darknet Markets in the US
In this section, we look at some of the popular markets list that US citizens have access to.
Drugs are the primary focus of the Monopoly Market, which is wallet free. Only Monero is accepted as currency. It is the only dark web marketplace that exclusively allows seasoned sellers to sell on its platform and is dedicated to reducing exit scams. There is no need for a wallet because you pay the vendor directly. Despite its size, it is a safe and trusted marketplace.
This is a modern dark web marketplace with a well-trained staff. Self-coded by its developers, the World Market is a darknet market with the best security in the industry. There is good anti-DDoS security, and it is simple to get around on the global market.
With ASAP market, you’ll have access to a wide range of never-before-seen product categories and a gorgeous visual aesthetic. Bitcoin and XMR wallets are supported, as well as MultiSig transactions. A coin mixer, coin exchange, and Dead Drop are also included. As a result, ASAP is the most comprehensive dark web marketplace out there US.
Formed in January 2020, it went live in March of that year. First and foremost, the user’s safety and security are of the utmost importance. There are no flaws in Asean Market because it was built from scratch by seasoned developers. The administrators’ goal is to build a long-term darknet marketplace with attractive features.
This is a reliable platform because of its high level of security and performance. It was the first to offer DeadDrop and Maps.
Big Blue Market
Security and customer satisfaction were the driving forces behind the development of this new market. Big Blue’s customer service is available 24/7, with a response time of under 15 minutes. Anti-Phishing measures are in place to ensure the highest level of security. Modern touches are added to the feel of Alphabay through the user interface.
Darknet Markets and Drugs
According to a report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), major drug markets on the dark web are now worth around $315 million annually. Drug markets on the dark web were estimated to be worth around $80 million in annual sales between 2011 and the middle of 2017. There has been a near 300 percent increase in this market’s size (i.e., to $315 million) in the span of just three years since (mid-2017 to 2020). The fact that drug markets on the dark web have only been around for about a decade makes this all the more significant.
During the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, contactless drug peddling was identified as an accelerating trend. Even before Covid-19, drug dealers were using social media and even popular e-commerce platforms to sell their wares, making them more accessible. Cannabis, which has been legalized in a number of states in the United States, currently accounts for the majority of darknet sales. New psychoactive substances (NPS) and precursor chemicals used in synthetic drug production are frequently marketed on the clear web.
Youth and Darknet Drugs
Every fifth teen has tried prescription drugs illegally, according to the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse. More than three-quarters of the nation’s high school seniors admit to getting their prescription drugs from shady sources like drug peddlers, forgers, and even online pharmacies. It’s really that simple to purchase medications over the internet these days.
The thought of your teen purchasing drugs online may be unthinkable. It’s difficult to accept that he or she has the chance to do so. A recent study found that the online drug market is booming. On the “darkweb” (the anonymous online drug market), there are over 1,000 websites that all deliver drugs to your doorstep. A staggering $300,000 to $500,000 worth of illegal drugs is sold online every day, which means that thousands of people are purchasing illegal substances via the internet.
As a result of their young age, they may not have a personal connection to a drug supplier, or they simply do not want to meet a drug dealer face-to-face. The internet makes it possible for teenagers to buy and receive drugs without ever having to face the dangers of a face-to-face transaction.
Why Do People Use It?
The anonymity of the transaction, the lack of physical contact, the removal of hesitancy among some customers who might otherwise be reluctant to interact with drug dealers, and the removal of the obstacle of customers having to go to potentially dangerous or isolated places to buy the drugs are what make the darknet a conducive platform for drug trafficking. In addition, it means that sellers and buyers don’t have to be in the same place, which raises the possibility that the market will become a globalized one.
When dealing drugs over the dark web, dealers don’t have to be in the same place as their clients to sustain themselves, unlike when dealing in localized markets, where a critical mass of customers is required. To make matters worse, customers have the ability to leave reviews on individual vendors’ products, just like they can on other online marketplaces.
Those who might otherwise be put in danger by disclosing their identities online, such as victims of abuse or whistleblowers in danger of persecution, now have an unintended advantage that criminals are abusing due to the dark web’s very nature. According to the UNODC report, such platforms don’t last long.
According to the report, 103 darknet markets were active for an average of just over eight months between 2010 and 2017. Only ten of the more than 110 darknet drug markets that were active between 2010 and 2019 remained fully operational in 2019. Almost all the major darknet markets that were established in 2018 had vanished by the end of 2020.
If law enforcement hadn’t intervened, the dynamic and resilient darknet market ecosystem would have grown even faster over the past decade. The dismantling of several darknet platforms has been made possible by large-scale law enforcement operations, as we will demonstrate in the next section.
The Story of Hydra Market
Hydra was a major force behind the distinctive crypto-crime scene in Eastern Europe. Due to Hydra’s role as a top-ten sender of cryptocurrency to Eastern Europe, the region had an unusually high rate of cryptocurrency transaction volume associated with criminal activity.
When it came to drug trafficking, Hydra had developed an Uber-like system for assigning drug deliveries to anonymous couriers, who dropped off their packages in public locations known as “drops,” which were then shared with the buyers. This posed a significant challenge to U.S. and European law enforcement agencies. Unlike in traditional darknet markets, vendors don’t have to risk using the postal system because there is no physical exchange taking place.
All this came crashing down when Hydra was taken down by the Justice Department on April 5, 2022. Approximately 80% of all darknet market cryptocurrency transactions were thought to have taken place through Hydra in 2021, and the marketplace had received about $5.2 billion in cryptocurrency since 2015.
The seizure of the Hydra servers and cryptocurrency wallets worth $25 million by the German Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt) in cooperation with US law enforcement took place on the morning of April 5 2022, in Germany.
In connection with the operation and administration of the servers used to run Hydra, the department announced criminal charges against Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov, 30, a Russian citizen. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The Department of Justice’s multi-agency Special Operations Division and the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) Team assisted and coordinated the U.S. investigation.
Darknet markets are impossible to get rid of, and with prominent cities in the US like Dayton, Missoula, New Orleans, and Baltimore falling deeper into the drug trap, stricter measures will soon need to be looked at.