Dark web becomes a haven for drugs after listings double in under a year

Drug listings on the “dark net” have more than doubled in less than a year after claims that the seizure of The Silk Road was the best thing that could have happened to the market.

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Research conducted by BBC News found that there are 43,175 listings of illegal drugs across 23 markets on the dark web – over double the figure of 18,174 across four main markets observed by the US-based Digital Citizens Alliance in October 2013.

“We still think the internet can be a wonderful tool for consumers and businesses, but we do worry good people and companies get caught up in the web spun by criminals and rogue operators,” said Adam Benson, deputy executive director of Digital Citizens Alliance. “That will slowly erode the trust and confidence we have in the Internet.”

Content on the dark web, which can be found using the Tor browser, is hidden from regular search engines and the complex routing method means that a computer’s Internet address is neigh-on untraceable.

Tor shot to the headlines last year when the owner of the Silk Road online marketplace, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested for facilitating the sale of illegal drugs through the site.

Deepdotweb.com, which examines various developments relating to this part of the Internet, stated that the Silk Road seizure has been a boon for the market with popularity sky-rocketing as a result.

“The Silk Road bust was the best advertising the dark net markets could have hoped for,” said a representative from the site.

British law enforcement agencies are understandably worried at the potential for dealers to use the dark web and are already making attempts to clamp down hard on the trade.

“We will use all and every tool and technique we possibly can,” said Caroline Young from the National Crime Agency. “Whether they are dealers and buyers online or on the street – they are exactly the same. They are dealing in illegal drugs and they are dealing in misery.”