Ever since 2011, drug-based online markets have been booming with business. Although Silk Road, one of the most infamous drug marketplaces, is no longer at play since its shutdown(s) by the FBI and Europol, large quantities of illegal drugs are still sold online every day. Besides that, there are more than thousands of vendors out there today.
A 2019 study gives us more insight into the minds behind the operation and their reasoning. Using encrypted online interviews, the researchers managed to pick the brains of 13 darknet drug vendors in order to find out why they chose to sell on the internet. Here’s a brief summary of the results:
Selling Online Is More Profitable
One interviewee said that they preferred selling online because they could make much more money selling that way than by doing it offline.
This finding concedes with the results of a previous study on the topic. Also, it’s quite logical, as online sellers have a broad customer base, distributing their products to the whole world. What’s more, they don’t have to rely on in-person interactions, which are not only limiting but also quite risky.
Selling Online Is Safer
Vendors also prefer selling online because it comes with much less risk than selling offline. The seller and the buyer don’t ever have to meet face-to-face. All products are distributed via post and paid for online, using cryptocurrency. So there’s essentially no chance of an undercover police attack, robbery, or assault. The vendors stay anonymous, and thus, protected through and through.
One respondent said that they didn’t want to get into the drug trade at first because they disliked violence. And, according to them, it’s not possible to sell drugs and not get into some sort of conflict. Online marketplaces and dark web markets undoubtedly helped overcome this obstacle.
Aside from the apparent profitability and safety, vendors also touched on other aspects of the online drug trade, such as customer service. For instance, one interviewee reports that their main goal is to sell labeled products, good advice, and service, just like any other business out there. What they do not want, however, is to sit at a car park all day, selling $10 bags from a car window.
Another vendor even says that there’s more mutual trust and that they can take their clients “at their word” when they claim their order was “short on pills.”
Finally, vendors also state that selling online gives them autonomy. They don’t have to answer to anyone but their customers. Besides that, the transgression that is online drug trade brings about a particular thrill, which one respondent called “unreal.”