The UN warned this Thursday about the increase in the drug market on the hidden web – also known as “deep” or “invisible” – and called for greater regulation of cryptocurrencies to put a stop to it. Although narcotics markets on the dark web emerged less than a decade ago, they already generate annual sales of $ 315 million, according to the World Drug Report released Thursday in Vienna.
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Although that amount is a small fraction of the multi-billion dollar drug business, sales have quadrupled between 2011 and 2017, and frequent use of online services during lockdowns may have helped it grow. According to the UN, cannabis dominates the market on the dark web, which is accessed with special applications and browsers, although there is also a wide presence of synthetic drugs and chemical precursors to make them.
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digitization of the drug market, with fewer street sales and more on the web, with the purchase of narcotics on the Internet and delivery by mail. The report points out that in the future a globalized market for illegal drugs could be created on the Internet, with which it fears that access will be facilitated and that this will affect consumption patterns. A good part of these transactions are carried out with cryptocurrencies.
The UN highlights the great adaptability of traffickers to the technological environment and calls for greater international regulation on cryptocurrencies, with which it is usually paid on the dark web, and which are very difficult to track. The report points out that a global phenomenon can only have a global response and that all countries must develop capacities to investigate Internet crimes such as drug trafficking.
“The globalized drug market, which will probably develop through the Internet, will require a global response with innovative tools but compatible with human rights”, underlines the UN.