More people buying drugs online on Bitcoin-friendly sites, European countries at the top of list

It looks like the controversial shutdown of the illegal marketplace Silk Road in 2013 didn’t scare away most online drug buyers. On the contrary, online drug sales have grown 13% in one year, according to the 2015 Global Drug Survey.

The survey polled 100,000 people from over 50 countries and found out that a growing number are buying illegal substances online through deep web-based illegal marketplaces that trade in Bitcoin.

According to the enquiries, 23% of the people that answered the survey admitted to buying drugs for the first time in 2014. This means that the number of online drugs buyers increased 13% in only one year, following the infamous closure of Silk Road and the imprisonment of its creator, Ross Ulbricht or ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’. Ulbricht was recently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

There are currently more than 25 marketplaces similar to Silk Road operating within the ‘dark web’, which can only be accessed through the hidden network known as Tor. Most of these platforms only accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

But what are the buyers purchasing? According to the survey, the more popular substances are MDMA, LSD and marijuana. The report also adds that buyers list several advantages when ordering drugs online: the substances are often more pure than most street drugs; the prices are lower; and there’s almost no chances of being victim of physical violence or threats.

On the other side, there’s a higher risk of losing money to a scam. Besides, the whole process makes it harder for family and friends to recognize an addiction.

2015 global drug survey

Comparison between the number of online drug buyers (blue) and users buying from an alternative or traditional source (red).

The survey has also revealed that Europe is home to most online drug buyers. Sweden, Poland, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom reported the most drug buyers. In sixth place we have the United States, with 11.2% of those polled admitting to buying drugs from an online source.

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