Earlier, top Austrian officials accused the Netherlands of failing to revamp efforts to shut down the narcotic labs where drugs such as crystal methamphetamine and ecstasy are produced.
A large percentage of these illicit drugs are sold to dark web customers in the United States and across Europe. Illegal drug trade on dark web markets has seen a sharp increase in recent years, although it is still a niche market compared to the conventional offline markets.
A considerable percentage of this market is occupied by vendors from European countries. According to a study conducted by RAND Europe, the Netherlands comes in third behind the UK and Germany in the ranks of European countries with the largest revenue share in dark web drug markets.
A narcotics team with authorities from Germany and Austria has intercepted approximately 6,000 packages containing 170 kilograms of illegal drugs over the past year. These drugs were procured from dark web marketplaces.
Wolfgang Sobotka, Austria’s Interior Minister, stated that a sizeable amount of the drugs that the team seized was produced in the Netherlands. He added that the main method of dispatch was via the German postal service.
According to Sobotka, cooperation from Dutch authorities must be improved in order to tackle this problem.
The Minister intended to voice his concerns with his Dutch counterpart. He concluded that it is very important that these Dutch drug labs be shut down.
According to Newsweek, who first published the story, a comment request to the Dutch ministry of justice was referred to the public prosecutor’s office.
Austrian chief drug crime official, Dieter Csefan, stated that authorities have seized Class A drugs including crystal meth, cocaine and ecstasy.
The list also included cannabis and fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid; its most prominent victim is famous singer Prince Rodgers Nelson (Prince), who overdosed and died on the drug last year.
Csefan revealed that drug dealers were operating makeshift labs out of shipping containers. These operations had a considerably high production rate—approximately 500 kilograms of drugs per week.
He said that the seized drugs were mostly headed to the U.S., followed by Austria.
The U.S. is unmatched as a top destination of illegal drugs sourced from dark web marketplaces. These marketplaces are also dominated by vendors operating from the U.S. with the highest share of drug revenues.
According to the aforementioned RAND Europe study, this revenue share is about twice as much as the share held by vendors from the U.K. and five times that of vendors from the Netherlands and Germany.
Csefan told reporters that the Dutch labs were mostly situated about five to six meters underground in large shipping containers in the southern regions of the Netherlands.
Adding to criticism about the Netherlands’ complacency in this matter was Franz Lang, head of the Federal Criminal Police Office in Austria. He stated that the Dutch Judiciary fail to comply with requests by Austrian authorities in due time, or fail to do so at all.
According to Lang, the Netherlands is not taking the drug lab matter seriously enough.
His sentiments much more positive in regards to the Czech Republic, which happens to be another big market for dark web drug dealers. He lauded the cooperation from the Czech law enforcement authorities, even though the crackdown on dark web drug trade is in its early stages.
This and many other developments regarding online drug trade indicate that the FBI shutdown of the Silk Road, the first major dark web market, in 2013 has done little to impede the steady growth of this infamous market sector.
Although the Dutch government has implemented policies aimed at tackling this problem, it seems that much more needs to be done to stem the production and transit of illegal drugs via online channels.
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