Forensic drug intelligence and the rise of cryptomarkets. Part II: Combination of data from the physical and virtual markets

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Journal Article
Forensic Science International, 2018, 288 pp. 201 - 210
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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. Technology provides new ways to access customers and suppliers while enhancing the security of off-line criminal activity. Since the first cryptomarket, Silk Road, in 2011, cryptomarkets have transformed the traditional drug sale by facilitating the creation of a global network of vendors and buyers. Due to the fragmented nature of traces that result from illegal activities, combining the results of concurrent processes based on traces of different nature should provide supplementary benefit to understand the drug market. This article compares the data of the Australian virtual market (in particular data extracted from cryptomarkets) to the data related to traditional market descriptors, namely national seizures and arrests, prevalence data, shipping countries of seized post shipments as well as outcomes of specific surveys targeting users’ behaviour online. Results revealed the domestic nature of the online illicit drug trade in Australia which is dominated by amphetamine-type substances (ATS), in particular methylamphetamine and cannabis. These illicit drugs were also the most seized drugs on the physical market. This article shows that the combination of different information offers a broader perspective of the illicit drug market in Australia and thus provides stronger arguments for policy makers. It also highlights the links between the virtual and physical markets.
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