Drugs and New Technologies Issue 9, December 2017

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Author: Amanda Roxburgh, Joe Van Buskirk, Lucinda Burns, Raimondo Bruno

Resource Type: Drugs and New Technologies (DNeT) Bulletins

This bulletin is the ninth in a series and provides analysis of trends over time in the availability and type of substances sold via the internet on the darknet.

The current bulletin reports for the time period January 2017 to June 2017.

Key findings:

  • Fourteen marketplaces were actively monitored during the time period.
  • AlphaBay and Hansa were shut down by a joint international law enforcement operation in July 2017.
  • Alphabay (up until closure) and Dream Market continued to be the largest marketplaces at the end of the monitoring period, recording the largest number of unique vendors during this time.
  • Hansa (up until closure) was the third largest marketplace monitored during this period.
  • Substantial downtime was recorded across the remaining marketplaces (including Dream Market) following the law enforcement seizures.
  • Across these marketplaces, cannabis, pharmaceuticals, MDMA, cocaine and methamphetamine were the five most commonly sold substances, followed by new psychoactive substances.
  • At the time of writing, eleven of the fourteen marketplaces actively being monitored had closed, either as a result of suspected exit scams, security breaches, or law enforcement seizures. This represents an unprecedented number of market closures in such a short time, reinforcing the volatility of these marketplaces.
  • Illicit opioid analgesics (particularly illicit fentanyl preparations and U-47700) continued to rank in the top 10 new psychoactive substances most commonly being sold by vendors. It should be noted however that the number of vendors selling these substances accounted for less than 5% of all vendors across the larger marketplaces.