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.
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.
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.”
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!
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