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Drugs and New Technologies Issue 5, October 2015

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Author: Van Buskirk, J., Roxburgh, A., Bruno, R., and Burns, L.

Resource Type: Drugs and New Technologies (DNeT) Bulletins

This bulletin is the fifth in a series by Drug Trends that provides analysis of trends over time in the availability and type of substances sold via the internet to Australia. The current bulletin reports for the time period January 2015 to June 2015.

Key findings

  • The largest marketplace identified in the previous bulletin, Evolution, was revealed to be an exit scam, with moderators leaving with up to $12 million worth of customers’ BitCoins.
  • The current monitoring period saw considerable downtime across marketplaces, in which markets were not able to be accessed. This appeared to be largely due to attacks from rival marketplaces, marketplace concerns over security and other unknown reasons.
  • Agora and Nucleus were the largest marketplaces at the end of the monitoring period by number of unique retailers.
  • Agora closed for trading on the 25th of August due to concerns around vulnerabilities in the TOR. Marketplace moderators asked all vendors and buyers to finalise transactions and withdraw money as quickly as possible. To date Agora has not re-opened.
  • Across the three largest marketplaces during the monitoring period, cannabis, pharmaceuticals, MDMA, cocaine and methamphetamine were the five most commonly sold substances across all marketplaces, with NPS popularity slightly declining.
  • Fifteen marketplaces were actively monitored during this period, and seven of these marketplaces were first identified during this time.
  • By June 2015, four of these marketplaces had closed, either as a result of scams, or various other reasons, reinforcing the volatility of these marketplaces.