As governments are working tirelessly to make sure their citizens are kept free of drug abuse, online drug dealers are laughing on their way to the bank.
The truth is unpalatable; drug use and addiction have devastating effects to individuals and the society as a whole.
There isn’t even a single country that will be developed if the majority of its workforce is locked in drug addiction.
It is for this reason that governments have banned substance abuse and are investing a lot of time, money and resources to make sure that drug use is reduced as much as possible.
In addition to this, governments may prohibit not just the drug but the conditions under which its users access and consume it.
Law Enforcement Effects
As the governments continue enforcing these drug prohibition laws, the amount of drugs being sold in the streets has reduced significantly.
Some drug vendors have been hunted down and brought to book, while others have received what they commonly refer to as “close calls.” This has instigated fear to other vendors, and as a result, they have dropped out of the business for safety reasons.
Drug users have also not been left behind as there is a continued crackdown of the vendors and the users. With all this going on, vendors and users have their safety in mind.
Law enforcement mainly targets vendors and many times those that have been affected by these small-scale vendors.
This shows that the big fish are still untouched and they are continuously trying to supply their products to the consumers. There’s also a growth of demand for these drugs by the consumers as there is a limited supply.
All these factors have pushed those involved in this business to move to online markets, where they feel that their safety is somehow uncompromised.
Let’s shed some light on how this business is transacted online. These markets are available in the dark web, which is only accessible through encrypted browsers like Tor.
Vendors and buyers communicate via encrypted email providers and systems like Pretty Good Privacy, which are hard to track. Once they have agreed on the price—which will be paid using cryptocurrency such as Bitcoins and is safely waiting on escrow—the drugs are carefully dispatched to the buyer.
The payment is only released from escrow once the customer approves it. This process may seem complicated for new users, but as they gain more experience in the market, it becomes easier for them with time.
Currently, online markets aren’t as big as those in the streets, but due to the increased crackdown of street vendors, these digital platforms are growing fast.
This has been supported by the figures that were put forward this month by the 2018 Global Drug Survey.
The study shows that those who bought drugs from darknet markets in the U.S. increased from 8 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2018.
This year, the most popular drugs to be obtained on darknet markets include MDMA, LSD and cannabis.
For each of these three categories, 2018 has seen a sharp increase in the amount of people buying these drugs online. This can only be possible if the number of sellers and buyers has increased over the years.
While it’s somehow possible to track down street drug dealers, law enforcers are finding it hard to track online drug dealers.
Even if the process is done carefully and correctly, it can still be almost impossible to pin down the dealers. What else could one need in this business if not anonymity?
The majority of drug users are ones who you won’t imagine are addicts. Some of these people are very successful individuals and they try to keep their conditions as secretive as possible as the use of some of these drugs is illegal and not socially acceptable.
Due to the illegalization of drugs by governments, some drug vendors have taken advantage of the situation by supplying low-quality drugs at high prices in the streets. This is, however, not the case in online market as sellers are seeking to build their brands by providing quality products at reasonable prices.
Research shows that reputation is everything for online sellers as it’s far more profitable for these sellers giving quality services than being con artists. Quality is critical for the buyers who risk legal action against them by possessing these illegal drugs.
Even though the dark web is secretive, the buyers can choose trustworthy suppliers by going through the comments left by the previous buyers. This aspect has attracted more buyers to online drug markets.
Some drugs are sold at a slightly higher price in online markets than in the streets. One of the main reasons for the online price premium is that online markets supply higher quality drugs than in the streets.
Another reason for these high prices is that vendors must build in some of the cost of packaging to lower the probability that these products may be intercepted in-transit.
Online vendors end up making crazy profits from this. Take an example, in most countries, the price of heroin is twice the cost online as on the streets.
According to a recent study, it’s quite expensive to send drugs to Australia as it’s so remote and the border there is more secure.
These reasons make the online sale of drugs to Australia very expensive—say, if you get a gram of heroin from the Netherlands, it cost around $75; once in Australia, the price jumps to approximately $288. Nevertheless, vendors still get customers who need these drugs.
Comparing Online Vs. Street Drug Dealing
Darknet markets have helped dealers to a great extent.
The dangers brought about by selling illegal drugs in the streets have been reduced in a big way.
Think about being shot by rivals who want to take over the street market.
This has been reduced by online drug markets. Once buyers start purchasing these drugs online, the risk of being arrested reduces.
Customers are also sure that the probability of being sold dodgy products is less online than in the streets. All these just leave drug dealers with minimal options than venturing in online drug markets.
That having been said, there are numerous dangers one can face when dealing with online drug markets.
At times, sellers may decide to blackmail buyers by threatening to release personal details such as their postal addresses online unless they pay them a specified amount of Bitcoins.
If sellers aren’t smart and careful enough, they might leave behind crucial evidence that may lead to them spending the rest of their lives behind bars.
Darknet Markets Fill a Vacuum
In conclusion, even though there is a lower supply of hard drugs as the governments are trying to reduce the supply and usage of drugs in the streets, online drug markets are filling that vacuum.
With the increased demand for these drugs and the prices growing, online vendors are ripping big.
The old-style dealers are shifting to online markets with time as the fruits are crystal clear.