Indian Authorities Investigate Darknet and Bitcoin Roles in Drug Trafficking

July 18, 2016 15:25 UTC

Indian authorities are investigating two syndicates selling drugs over the darknet using bitcoin.

R.R. Bhatnagar, the director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), said that for the first time, the bureau has detected drug dealers using bitcoin and the darknet operating illegal drug trafficking in India. The NCB investigations have indicated that some of the people involved are based in the country, and the agency is continuing to investigate, according to the Economic Times in India.

Bhatnagar said the bureau has interdicted both syndicates, and both are selling party drugs.

Tactics Alarming

He noted the secretive measures the bureau is taking over the Internet is troubling, but it is strengthening its abilities to detect such crimes.

The cross-border heroin trade, meanwhile, has declined, Bhatnagar said. He noted there has been a 30 percent fall in trafficking in Punjab, which he attributed to the effective actions the agency has taken.

The director general told the Union Home Ministry during a formal meeting that Punjab drug addicts were becoming attracted to medicine-based concoctions as a result of the bureau’s actions against traditional narcotics.

Punjab Leads In Drug Seizures

Punjab accounted for the most opium and heroin seizures in the country in 2015, according to data Bhatnager presented.

Synthetic drugs have been replacing semi-synthetic and natural products that users have abused for several decades, the report noted.

Illegal drug sales over the darknet have not declined since the 2013 closure of the Silk Road website, contrary to some expectations, CCN reported. New drug trafficking websites have replaced Silk Road and surpassed its activity.

Safety, anonymity and competition are driving users to online drug marketplaces. The online price is half of street prices in some cases.

A Global Drug Survey 2015 polled over 100,000 people from 50 countries with various questions about how they buy drugs, where they get them, and their motivations for the use of various drugs.

Also read: Drug sales online continue to rise after Silk Road shutdown

Online Drug Sales Expand

Seven years ago, when online drug sales were just beginning, only 5% of respondents to the survey had bought drugs online. In last year’s survey, that rate increased 400% to 25% of all respondents. The annual survey is overseen by Adam Winstock, a British addictions psychiatrist, who says that the availability of drugs online does not lead to an increase in the number of people using “social drugs.” It has only changed the venue more from in-person to online marketplaces.

Since Silk Road’s closure in 2013, drug listings online have also been shown to triple in number from a fleet of new websites. Since October of 2013, sites like Agora and the recently-closed Evolution have passed the size of Silk Road’s business, at least in the number drug listing.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified: July 18, 2016 15:26 UTC

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Lester Coleman is a media relations consultant for the payments and automated retailing industries.

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