Drug Sales on Darknet Markets Have Tripled Since the Silk Road Bust

The government’s push to take down the original Silk Road was motivated by several factors but one in particular was especially interesting. Congress wanted to cut off online drug trade before the industry could grow became a trend. But according to research, the exact opposite has happened. Deepweb drug sales have since tripled.

According to a study conducted by Judith Aldridge from the University of Manchester and David Decary-Hetu from the University of Montreal, up to $21m in drugs are sold on the deepweb per month. The lowest recorded monthly sales collectively added up to $12m – double the number in 2013 right before the arrest of Ross Ulbricht.

Both Judith Aldridge and David Decary-Hetu are both well known for their published studies on the deepweb drug trade and the studies are incredibly detailed. Included in the study on increased drug trade online, they note that the major growth in online industry is significant but it’s still only a minute portion of the market as a whole. The study – notably conducted in Europe – compares the $21m monthly deepweb sales globally to the $2.3bn sales in Europe alone.

Even more noteworthy, in the study, is the connection between deepweb sales and the offline drug market. In January 2016, a quarter of the sales were greater than $1,000, indicating that the drugs were purchased in bulk for offline resale.

Back in July, Bitcoin.com reported on a study from Gwern Branwen pointing out that drugs online were more expensive than their offline counterparts but online drugs were far purer. For instance, Energy Control asked volunteers to send in samples of drugs purchased on the deepweb to conduct quality tests. The Spanish think-tank found that deepweb Cocaine had an average purity of 71.6% where street cocaine was only at 48%. Half of the deepweb cocaine samples were completely uncut but only 14% of the street cocaine was unadulterated. Purity considered, the prices online are often superior.

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