Can you buy drugs with bitcoin?

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In addition to “analog” transshipment points on the street, in clubs, in the park or in taxis, more and more drugs are also being sold over the digital counter. Namely in the darknet. We looked at how drug trafficking works on the internet and what the police are doing about it.

From Ambra Schuster

You don't get to the Darknet with Firefox or Chrome, but with the Tor browser, which is supposed to guarantee anonymity. In the so-called deep web there are various forums in which pretty much everything is discussed, from credit card abuse to product fraud, that is not intended for the public.

Part of these forums are so-called Market Places, i.e. marketplaces where you can buy drugs, among other things. Payment is made with cryptocurrencies or Paysafe cards. Ordering drugs on the Darknet is actually a piece of cake. You write the desired amount of the respective substance to the dealer, give him your own address or, in many cases, the address of a dead mailbox and agree on a shipping method. Then the dealer sends his bitcoin wallet, where the bitcoins are transferred before he sends the product. The orders and the communication with the dealer in the Darknet are carried out via self-destructive messages.

Customer ratings for online dealers

The drug market on the Darknet is big. From drugs to cocaine, weed to opiates, there is nothing that cannot be bought. By far the most common synthetic addictive substances are sold over the digital counter. The Darknet becomes particularly dangerous when new substances with unknown effects are readily available. Keyword fentanyl or GHB / GBL drops. The former has already caused countless deaths in the United States. The latter is easily available as a supposed party drug, but extremely addictive.

The drug trade on the Darknet does not replace normal street sales, but complements it. In the past ten years, the reported drug offenses have doubled, according to the office for combating drug-related crime at the Federal Criminal Police Office. Around ten percent of these drug cases reported come from Darknet and postal deliveries. The number of unreported cases is unknown.

As with conventional online shops, there are customer ratings here too, which are intended to prove the quality of providers. The supposedly better quality of the drugs is often used as an argument For called the Darknet. A misconception, says Daniel Lichtenegger, who heads the office for combating drug-related crime at the Federal Criminal Police Office: “Do you believe every Amazon review? The question is always where the ratings come from. It is not the pharmacist or a pharmaceutical company who precisely lists the ingredients and sends out instructions for use. ”In addition, you never know exactly what is being mixed with it and what is actually contained in the drugs. After all, dealers are also trying to create a dependency and thus retain customers. "Regardless of whether on the street or on the Darknet, these are strangers who actually only want to make money."

Logically, you are not immune to fraud in the Darknet, there is of course no buyer protection. Not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of money. With so-called Exit rips an anonymous person collects orders and bitcoins, but then does not send any goods, but makes off with the money.

What if you get caught?

Drug offenses on the Darknet are punished in the same way as those on the street. The strategy of “therapy instead of punishment” is pursued, especially with first-time consumers. One does not want to criminalize young people, but rather take accompanying, health and psychological measures. And yet: Nothing is trivialized, every property offense is noted.

The much greater focus of the police, however, both in street trading and on the Darknet, is on locating dealers and discovering addictive substance mail. This is a major challenge, not least because of the legal restrictions on searching mail. The goal is to permanently destroy the sales structures. "Our first priority is the Austrian dealer, then the international dealer and then the consumer," says Daniel Lichtenegger.

As far as drug production is concerned, cannabis is mainly grown in Austria, the rest is imported. While only four to ten drug laboratories are discovered annually in Austria, there are more than 200 in the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic. This makes international cooperation in the fight against drugs all the more important. And even if there is supposed anonymity in the Darknet, Daniel Lichtenegger points out: “The network never forgets. Everyone makes mistakes and we wait for them - and then we strike. "

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