Online drug traffickers

When you think of a drug deal, you usually think of night street corners dimly lit by street lamps in a bad part of town. They think of shady alleys and secret back and forth between people who keep their voices quiet and hide their faces. When people think of a drug deal, they usually don’t think of an electronic transaction, a computer screen, and a few keystrokes.

Unfortunately, online drug trafficking is becoming just as common and dangerous for families as drug trafficking in person.

Drug trafficking across the country and buying and selling drugs is now as much a cyber problem as it is a personal problem. Families, law enforcement, communities and technology companies need to change their respective public health and safety models to reflect the significant changes in drug trafficking in the 21st century.

A new study reveals the volume of drug sales online

There is no doubt that the opioid addiction epidemic has had devastating effects in the United States since it began in the late 1990s. This is still a serious health problem today and it is only getting worse. The opioid crisis is a national public health emergency and has shown no signs of going away or resolving on its own.

A big part of addressing the opioid crisis will consist of studying how opioid supply chains work and how drug traffickers are moving opioid products from their inventory into the hands and veins of addicts. According to a study that wanted to map the supply chain for opioid drugs, anonymous, secret online marketplaces, forums, shops and auction rooms similar to eBay or Amazon are playing an increasingly important role. These are websites that anyone can post or browse for sale or browse and purchase opioid substances with discretion.

A study published in JMIR Publications in February 2021 provides some results on the findings on the extent of online drug trafficking. The authors of the study quote: “A total of 248,359 entries from 10 anonymous online marketplaces and 1,138,961 tracks (ie threads from posts) from 6 underground forums were collected. Among them, we identified 28,106 opioid product lists and 13,508 opioid-related advertising and review forum traces of 5147 unique opioid supplier IDs and 2778 unique opioid buyer IDs. ”

The researchers, most of whom are specialists at the Health Science Center at the University of Texas at Houston (the School of Biomedical Informatics), came to these conclusions using a special programming language they had developed to search marketplaces on the dark web. Quote from Xiaoqian Jiang, Professor of Biomedical Informatics: “When we were at the sites, we started looking for jargon patterns and trends to understand what was going on. We used algorithms and forums to identify keywords and find websites, lists and suppliers that sell opioids. ”

“There is a high level of sophistication in this trade that I don’t think a lot of people realize. To buy the product you have to use cryptocurrency, which requires a high level of technology … “

Tiffany Champagne-Langabeer, Assistant Professor of Health Informatics at the School of Biomedical Informatics and senior author on the study, also provided valuable comments. “This trade has a high level of sophistication that I don’t think many people are aware of. To buy the product, you have to use cryptocurrency, which requires a high level of technology. When you think of opioids or heroin you think of drugs that are sold on the street, but I think we found here that sourcing and distributing these products is much more complex and sophisticated. People around the world can buy and sell much faster via the Internet.

It seems that selling drugs online is much more common than previously thought, a dire situation that poses a significant risk for Americans, especially young people.

Online drug sales and teens

Teenagers surfing the web at night

One can imagine that selling drugs poses a particular risk to young people, especially as young people tend to be more tech-savvy and are more likely to look for a tech-based solution to buying drugs. This risk is exacerbated by the fact that older people (their parents) are less aware of this threat.

In addition, the ability to buy drugs online could make young people more likely to experiment with drugs, as they would not have to face the risky, personal task of finding a drug dealer and buying drugs in person. Younger adults and teenagers can feel more comfortable buying drugs from a computer screen in what feels like the comfort and safety of their own home. Online drug trafficking effectively removes one of the barriers that traditionally keep young people from experimenting with drugs, namely the fear of getting caught.

The highest cost of substance abuse is measured not in dollars, but in lives – why fighting this problem is so important

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Almost 841,000 people have died from drug overdoses since 1999. This is a leading cause of preventable death in America, with more people dying from overdoses than from car accidents or suicide. In 2019 alone, nearly 71,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses, a 4% increase in deaths from 2018.

Opioids fuel the epidemic of overdose. Opioids account for around 70% of all drug-related deaths each year. Opioids were also the most cited drug on the online drug trafficking and selling network, as the aforementioned study shows.

Online drug trafficking is costing Americans their lives, and something must be done to stem the growing trend of buying, selling, shipping, and receiving addictive and potentially deadly opioids.

What families can do to keep loved ones safe from online drug trafficking

Mother is talking to her daughter

As federal and state organizations work hard to address the growing problem of the dark web (and everything related to it), individual families and communities must also take steps to protect themselves.

When people buy drugs online, they have no way of knowing what the mail will bring them or what that substance could do to their bodies. Therefore, families cannot wait for a large-scale raid on the dark web. Families must act now to protect one another.

Parents can start by talking to their children about drugs and how harmful drugs are. Such a discussion makes young people wonder why they don’t want to use drugs at all.

Family members can also enforce better internet security, parental controls, and digital safeguards that prevent household computers and devices from accessing the dark web. From firewalls to cybersecurity, there are several ways to keep a home safe from illegal websites.

Families also need to know the signs of drug use and what to look out for. If a son, daughter, or other family member is already using drugs, the family must come together and get them to an inpatient drug treatment center as soon as possible.

Similar Posts