Darkweb markets compete for drug trafficking and illegal pharmacy monopoly
Major drug markets in the Dark Web are now worth around $315 million annually according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Resecurity estimates this figure to be significantly higher in 2023, the annual sales of illegal drugs in the Dark Web for 2022 exceeded $470 million – which is the result of increased geopolitical tensions, global pandemics, and unprecedented growth of shadow economy internationally.
Following the takedown of Hydra Marketplace by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office in a joint operation with the FBI, DEA, IRS Criminal Investigations, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in April 2022, at least 10 darknet markets (DNMs) have risen to fill the regional void for drugs and other illicit goods. Still, the disruption of Hydra dealt a “huge blow“ to the ecosystem, according to multiple sources on the Dark Web.
According to Resecurity® HUNTER team, the following 10 Marketplaces are currently representing the core ecosystem of drug trafficking in the Dark Web, which is split between actors from multiple regions and influence groups:
The Resecurity® Hunter unit performed an extensive analysis of current trends and dynamics related to the underground economy around active DNMs leveraging technical means and human intelligence (HUMINT) sources. Some results of this research (Drug Trafficking in the Dark Web – Status Report – 2022/2023) arranged by our team are provided within this blog post and are aimed to provide awareness for international law enforcement, cybercrime investigators and intelligence professionals. Some of the identified underground marketplaces hide the exact number of users revealing only the number of sellers and shops registered on them, that’s why in such cases we used other available sources and assumptions to estimate it.
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