Acquisition and sales of drug-related products are the leading forms of income generating activities on the dark web.
The sales of these products create millions of dollars in profit for the sellers and commissions for the site admins depending on the volume of product flow.
The prime factor that determines the profit reaped by sellers and the commission gained by the site is the concoction of the drug, the quantity and, finally, the type of drug.
In a business context, these are habitual goods, and to some extent, a hike in the price of the commodity will have only a trivial effect on the demand.
The finding that drugs contribute to more sales than any other product or service on the dark web was proven during the seizure and takedowns of major darknet markets such as Silk Road and Alphabay where records indicate that cannabis, marijuana, and other substitute goods have a high volume of sales.
For this reason, one may wonder what transpires and goes on behind the scenes until the goods are shipped to the client.
Because authorities are on the look, it becomes tough for smuggling to take place, but there are a few individuals who have managed to manipulate and compromise the system to their advantage.
Moving the Product: South America to Europe
In countries where the system is strict, there are still means of moving product.
Gangs coordinated by team leaders, for instance, operate within a specific area to ensure that merchandise is delivered within a specified region that is known to have a high number of clients.
According to a 2012 report which discussed organized crime in Europe, it is revealed that criminal gangs with different goals work together to ensure that they all benefit from each other irrespective of their nature in the business.
One can look at the term leverage and refer to it since these gangs are essentially employing the art of leverage to achieve their goals.
For illustrative purposes, groups that are involved with car theft work together with those that supply cocaine and cannabis to make deliveries from one area to the another.
The report reviews several other illustrative scenarios in-depth.
It is a well-known fact that South America is among the leading continents that export hard drugs to other continents’ markets, including North America, Europe and parts of Asia.
Based on the report of the drug trade in the EU, Columbian exporters opt to use organized crime groups based in Europe to push for the sale of merchandise.
Doing this enables them to reap more profits from the sales and, furthermore, there is less risk as compared to smuggling goods into the US where anti-drug trafficking laws and law enforcement agencies are stricter.
SteroidChem’s Darknet Market Business Strategy
From these known links, it can be inferred that organized crime groups use the dark web as an avenue to get more clientele, translating to better business opportunities for all involved.
A dark web vendor in Dream Market operating under the alias SteroidChem seems to be working with an organization which is interested in expanding its customer base since, in his listings, he posts that he is in need of persons residing within certain regions in the EU, namely: France, Italy, and Germany.
Despite expanding his customer base, SteroidChem also makes it explicitly clear that he does not ship to countries such as New Zealand, Hungary, Russia, Denmark, the United States, Brazil and Australia due to the high risks involved.
Due to the nature of the business, it is best to identify the hotspots which may bring undue risk to the overall business operation such as getting intercepted by authorities or being scammed, a very common phenomenon with dark web business.
Furthermore, SteroidChem does not want buyers to leave technical feedback about their purchases as competitors may either start employing his tactics or even divulge the details to authorities in a bid to thin out their competition.
The vendor goes on to request to those he works with to not divulge any information about how deliveries are made, as it gives authorities leads to apprehending the vendor in the event of a crackdown.
However, this does not mitigate the risk of an undercover officer posing as a customer and receiving a delivery from the marketplace.
The tactic has been used numerable times in the past, and the most notable incident was during the seizure of Silk Road where an undercover law enforcement officer made multiple purchases of drugs from different vendors.
This tactic aims to bust those involved in the trade who will then provide leads to the bigger fish.
The approach has been proven to work from time to time, but the only issue is that it requires authorization, time, effort and collaboration.
At times, dark web users may want a specific product from a particular vendor, but due to one reason or the other, the seller cannot offer shipment to them.
What frequently happens in this scenario is that they negotiate with the seller under special terms, the user can check with other traders in the same market or check other markets to solve their problem.
This practice is widespread among various users who are fond of acquiring goods from Tor-based markets.
It should be noted that the larger marketplaces host the same vendors who operate under the same pseudonyms and have similar listings for the description of their goods and services offered.
Though darknet markets come and go, the vendors have remained.
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