Anonymous Messenger Apps and Drug Distribution in Ukraine

Drug dealers in Ukraine have cultivated an open drug distribution network largely unfettered by law enforcement scrutiny via a widely used tool: the secure messenger app Telegram.

The rise of secure messaging apps, such as Telegram and WhatsApp, has afforded increased protection to political dissidents, journalists, and other actors transmitting sensitive information or otherwise wary of government surveillance. At the same time, however, these apps have afforded criminal enterprise a greater degree of protection as well.

In Ukraine, drug dealers have begun to use the messenger app Telegram to establish closed drug advertising and distribution channels. With very little, if any, scrutiny from law enforcement or government oversight, these closed channels have spawned a flourishing ecosystem of direct advertisements for illegal drugs.

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