A new research study by academicians in Canada and England analyzing darknet market drug purchase data is shedding light on which countries prefer to import drugs from elsewhere versus countries that prefer to have drugs shipped domestically. The results of the study, published in the Jul 2023 issue of Crime Law and Social Change, suggest that darknet market buyers in Russia, United States and Canada prefer to order from domestic vendors the most, whereas buyers in Turkey, India and Belgium are the most likely to use international vendors.
The researchers suggest a variety of factors play into DNM buyers of a country when deciding whether or not to order drugs from an international vendor. Such factors include cultural affinity (sharing the same language), a nation’s ability to police darknet markets, and the availability of a desired drug in a buyer’s home country.
Top 15 seller countries. National and international transactions
The study is based on data from the former DrugRoutes website which collected verifiable, self-reported DNM drug purchase data from volunteers to establish a sense of the most popular international routes for the darknet drug trade. The authors found that international drug trade was especially prolific in the EU, where Netherlands was a top exporter to neighboring countries like Germany, France. Netherlands also had one of the highest export rates to countries on other continents, including the US, Canada, Australia, and India.
The study also found that the US was the primary “buyer” country overall, followed by Germany, France, the UK, Canada, and Australia. In addition, researchers looked at which drugs were the most popular to be shipped overseas, according to the DrugRoutes data, which consisted of the following (and percent of total orders):
- Cannabis (28%)
- Cocaine (20%)
- MDMA/Ecstasy (12%)
- LSD (9%)
- Amphetamine (6%)
- “Others” (6%)
- Methamphetamine (5%)
- Heroin/other opioids (4%)
- Prescription drugs (3%)
- Benzodiazepines (3%)
- Ketamine (1%)
Finally, the authors of the study also suggest that countries with better internet infrastructure and more widespread availability have larger DNM userbases than those where the infrastructure is lacking. As an example, the study mentions the disparity between the UK and Colombia in terms of internet penetration and price of cocaine:
“Colombian dealers could reap substantial proﬁts from selling on cryptomarkets, as the domestic wholesale price for a kilogram of cocaine is about $1,500, while it is $45,000 in the UK. But the internet penetration in Colombia is 65%, with a signiﬁcant proportion of those without internet access likely residing in more rural areas where cocaine production is more concentrated.
By contrast, internet penetration in the UK is 95%. This disparity helps illuminate — albeit incompletely — why the UK has a more central role in drug cryptomarket traﬃcking than Colombia.” – Online and offline determinants of drug trafficking across countries via cryptomarkets, Crime Law and Social Change Jul 2023