Drug trade through darknet a major challenge for agencies

Recent LSD haul alerts agencies; anonymity, bitcoin transactions make detection hard

Published: 20th March 2021 05:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2021 05:19 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: The recent seizure of more than 700 LSD stamps by Kochi city police has sent out an alert to enforcement agencies, including police and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), about peddlers in Kerala switching to the darknet to buy psychotropic substances. What concern agencies are the anonymity of the darknet and the use of cryptocurrency bitcoin for the trade in contraband including drugs.Darknet is part of the internet comprising websites not indexed by Google and which cannot be traced through popular search engines. Usually, darknet users prefer anonymous browsers to access these websites.

An NCB officer said drug trade through the darknet is a challenge for the agencies. “In recent years, several cases had been registered in Bengaluru for procuring drugs like LSD and MDMA through the darknet. This is the first time a drug deal through the darknet has been detected in Kerala. The anonymity which the darknet provides is a challenge for anti-narcotic agencies across the globe,” he said.

While the darknet provides anonymity, bitcoin ensures no traces of money transaction are left behind as there is no physical currency or usual digital money transactions involved. Similarly, drugs mostly come from abroad via courier parcels. According to the officials, LSD stamps are bought through the darknet mostly and these arrive mostly from Scandinavian countries. 

“LSD is the easiest drug to smuggle. It is just a sheet of paper and is difficult to detect it through the scanner. These are synthetic drugs. In Bengaluru, there were a few cases of MDMA in crystal form brought from abroad through courier parcels,” NCB officials said. G Shreekumar Menon, former DG, National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics (NACEN), said the darknet is an emerging route among drug peddlers. One of the daunting tasks in such cases is to establish the evidence. 

“As every evidence in such cases is on the internet, prosecution faces the challenge of proving the case in the court,” he said.Nandakishore Hari, CEO of Technisanct, a cybersecurity firm based in Kochi, said since the lockdown forced people to become active online, an increasing number of youngsters have been accessing the darknet. Not only the darknet, but even the Telegram messenger app is being used for drug deals due to its confidential nature, he said. 


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