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Markets on the dark web have expanded the drug dealing market by quite a lot.
Drug deals have gone from a shady in-person exchange to something that can be done within the comfort of your own home, and as easy as a click of a button.
To deal with this growing market, many governments and law enforcement agencies alike have had to adapt and create new methods for preventing the trade from growing any further.
However, these methods are proving to be ineffective, as crime on the dark web is not showing any signs of stopping, even in minor ways.
Crime in Europe
There have been constant increases in the use of darknet markets for the distribution of drugs, and it seems like lately there has been quite an outbreak—especially in Europe, but even more especially in the United Kingdom.
There have been spikes in all darknet-related crime in these areas. The dark web is also contributing to other forms of organized crime.
The United States has had its fair share of crime as well, but it pales in comparison to the U.K. At least, when talking about organized crime on the dark web.
Various European law enforcement agencies have made many steps in preventing dark web crime, especially when it comes to drug distribution on darknet markets.
Yorkshire alone has seen a dramatic increase of dark web-related crime, and it is apparent to its citizens.
About a year ago, the private information of about 1 million people in Yorkshire was stolen and posted for sale on the dark web.
West Yorkshire Gang
Recently, in West Yorkshire, a large dark web-based drug distribution ring has been uncovered.
According to a BBC report, three men were arrested in this case and it is estimated that they made at least £163,000/$216,560. They’ve been operating this drug distribution ring since as early as December 2016.
The names of these three men are Lee Childs, Jake Levene, and Mandy Christopher Lowther. They all admitted to using the dark web to sell illegal drugs.
However, they weren’t your average plug.
Instead of distributing “standard” illegal drugs such as weed or cocaine, they were distributing things like fentanyl and a much more dangerous variant of it known as carfentanil. They bought and resold drugs, but they mostly manufactured their own.
These illegally-produced drugs are more powerful, and can also be much more deadly.
Their operation reached a global scale, with drugs being sold to people in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Norway, Australia, Argentina, Spain, Holland and Singapore.
They made at least 2,843 deals to at least 443 people. Out of those 443 people, 173 of them were in the U.K.
Fentanyl and Carfentanil
Carfentanil, essentially, is just a more powerful version of fentanyl. Fentanyl itself is already extremely powerful, but carfentanil is around 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, and about 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.
Fentanyl can easily be deadly if not used as directed. In the U.K., it’s a class A drug, and in the U.S., it’s a schedule II drug. Schedule II drugs “have a high potential for abuse” but can still retain medicinal value.
On a side note, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has always been criticized for its inappropriate classification of drugs. It might not be that they classify drugs wrong, but that they classify drugs in a confusing way.
It appears that they list marijuana as having no medical value, but cocaine isn’t considered as bad. This is obviously very far from the truth by many standards.
So in the U.S. at least, fentanyl is probably being underestimated, as doses as little as 0.002 grams can be deadly. It’s safe to say that fentanyl has easily earned a spot on the schedule I classification for drugs.
Poor Reporting (Writer’s Observations)
This whole situation brought into light certain depictions of criminals that are not usually seen in the media.
This article, and the previously linked BBC article, paint the three criminals who operated this ring in a generally positive light.
In that article, they’re not depicted as criminals at all. They’re not running an illegal drug smuggling operation, they’re running a business. They even go so far as to call the three a “brazen trio.”
The six deaths linked to this gang’s distribution of drugs? Unlucky collateral damage. After all, they were probably getting in the way of their business.
This shows a sharp contrast to the United States, where only using a drug is considered an incriminating, irredeemable action. We consider the people who do drugs to be criminals who need rehabilitation, but people who sell drugs are just operating a business.
It’s interesting to see the differences in how these countries treat the same kind of criminals. If this gang had committed the same crime in the U.S., they might have been met with the same fate seen by Ross Ulbricht.
The media would definitely not have been as gracious either, but instead would have condemned their actions.
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