1 in 4 UK Drug Users Have Purchased Narcotics via Dark Web Marketplaces in the Last Year

1 in 4 UK Drug Users Have Purchased Narcotics via Dark Web Marketplaces in the Last Year

According to London-based drug and alcohol research group, The Global Drug Survey (GDS), 25.3 percent of UK drug users have used anonymous markets hosted on the dark web to purchase illicit substances in the last year, a 7 percent increase from 2016’s figures.

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European Nations See the Highest Adoption of Darknet Markets Among Drug Users

Recent research by the GDS shows that darknet marketplace narcotics purchases have steadily increased in recent years, with the percentage of users who have used darknet markets have doubled since 2014 – the year after Ross Ulbricht’s arrest and the collapse of The Silk Road.

1 in 4 UK Drug Users Have Purchased Narcotics via Dark Web Marketplaces in the Last Year

European nations see the highest adoption of darknet markets among drug users. Finland showed the greatest uptake of dark market adoption, with 41 percent of Finnish drug users reporting that they had purchased narcotics using the dark web. Denmark came second, 27.2 percent, followed by The United Kingdom (25.3 percent), Wales (25 percent), Sweden (24.5 percent), and Scotland & Spain (22.5 percent). In the United States, despite being the world’s largest narcotics importer, only 13 percent of drug users are using darknet markets.

The research concluded that MDMA and cannabis are the two most purchased substances by UK users, with 58 percent of darknet users having previously purchased MDMA, and 45 percent of user had purchased cannabis.

The Growth of Darknet Markets Has Taken a Hydra-Like Form

Jamie Bartlett, author of “The Dark Net”, discussed the risks associated with drug users accessing anonymous marketplaces in an interview with Independent UK. “If you know what you’re doing and you’re a sensible user, it’s probably safer because you’re not hanging around on street corners and your drugs aren’t going to be cut with other things. But if you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re inexperienced, it can be quite dangerous to get hold of all these drugs, especially if you’re 15 or 16 and hear that you can get cocaine and MDMA online. You’ve suddenly got access to the kind of things you never would have before.”

1 in 4 UK Drug Users Have Purchased Narcotics via Dark Web Marketplaces in the Last Year

The growth of darknet markets has taken a hydra-like form. Following the accidental removal of The Silk Road 2.0 during Operation Onymous, many of the vendors that had operated on The Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0 chose to operate their own private darknet websites.

Numerous geographically targeted darknet marketplaces have also proliferated following the fall of the major early dark markets. The result has been an increasingly decentralized and sophisticated darknet ecosystem that increasingly appears to be one step ahead of law enforcement. At present, it is estimated that over 50 anonymous markets are actively operating on the dark web.

Do you think that darknet markets will continue to see growth in adoption amongst narcotics users? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock


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  • Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics. Have you ever met a hard-core drug addict? Do you think they even own a PC, much less use the Darknet? This study is very flawed in some way.

    • Jane

      I know, and have known, hundreds of people who are addicted to drugs who own hand-held computers, otherwise called smart phones. It’s essential they do. Even homeless drug addicts generally have a cheap smart phone. Vodafone do one for £14.99 – at Argos!

      • So they order it with their Vodaphone to where..?? They need an address to deliver to. Oh,but I bet they are that 0.001% of homeless that hold a PO BOX. I just do not think these numbers represent reality. There are MORE addicts on the streets.

        • Jane

          Sorry – I was responding more to your assumption that hard-core drug addicts wont own a computer. rather than use the Darknet. However I would disagree with you that there are MORE addicts on the streets. It might depend on which countries these survey are conducted. I’m in the UK. It’s not the case here.

          • Yes, wasn’t the best wording, but I got off on homelessness tangent. I meant the non-darknet users, not homeless users.

    • T4k4X Starphyre

      yes, I am also sceptical of these “surveys” and the source of target groups, If I handed out flyers asking people about their illicit activities I wouldn’t expect any hard data besides new results on the likeliness of getting stabbed when administering surveys.

  • Jane

    Which means 3 out of four use untraceable cash. Good to know crypto currencies also empower individuals to exercise their right to make personal choices for themselves.

    • Have you read Coinbase’s Terms of Service? If you buy eCigs, they will shut down your account :o. So, the ideals are a bit compromised, not to mention that it was never anonymous. It may not have your name on it, but if you buy a coffee at 9:45am at a certain point, there you are, then all transactions can be traced. OR if you try to ‘cash out’.

      In the USA, Coinbase is basically the sole entry/exit point. Dunno about UK. Bet I’d be suspicious and bet it is consolidated.

      • NAIJABOY

        if drug addicts are so dumb they don’t own computers then who do you think patronises those sites? internet tourists?

  • roger lees

    Well that means 3 out of four drug buyers use Fiat money. Solution ban fiat money.

  • gotroch

    Well, clearly the fiat is the most drug-related. UK should do something about it!