Why are online drug sales increasing in Sydney, Australia?
Methamphetamines (ice), oxycodine, cocaine, speed, LSD, ecstasy, cannabis and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). You name it and you can buy any illicit drug you want online. Your next high is now just one click away. Online drug supply and sales is big business. In just one day there can be upwards of 41,900 drug listings according to the Digital Citizens Alliance. A data mining analysis done by news.com.au last May revealed that Australia’s top online drug seller “TheProfessionals” was noted as having over 9,000 listings alone, with an estimated total income of $3.3 million a month in sales.
Why are Australians purchasing drugs online?
To Avoid Police Detection
At the click of a mouse users can get any illicit drug they want, and all from the comfort of their own living room. Purchasing drugs on the street in comparison is risky. Choice, safety and convenience make online drug sourcing easier than buying drugs offline. Hanging around dark, dirty corners scouring the streets for drugs with a chance of getting beat up or arrested is very dangerous.
There is much less risk involved in online drug selling because of the anonymity it provides. When you buy from dealers on the street, they know your face and can easily find out where you live making you an easy target for other crimes such as extortion or robbery. Street dealers are often also well-known to police with their activities, including their customers, being monitored.
The internet however offers much more anonymity. The Dark Web with Silk Road 3 Reloaded or Agora online marketplaces cannot be accessed without a special “Tor browser” that hides the location and identity of the original IP addresses and makes transactions nearly impossible to trace. This software makes purchasing drugs online a lot less risky than buying from the street. Especially for occasional or low level users.
The perceived reduced risk of buying drugs online also encourages new buyers who would not normally purchase drugs offline such as youth or college students.
Also with online drug sales there are no “cash” transactions that can be easily traced such as bank accounts. Everything is bought using bitcoins. Bitcoins are a type crypto-currency that makes the financial transactions of the online drug sales untraceable.
The economics of buying and supplying drugs online is also enticing. Drugs bought online are usually a lot cheaper. The price of drugs in Australia is more than double the global average, but drugs sourced from overseas can sell for as little as one-tenth of the street price in Australia. For example, a gram of cocaine on the streets in Australia might cost $200 in comparison to 10 grams online for $300.
Another reason why Australians purchase drugs online is the increased variety available. The internet provides access to types of drugs that may not be available from the street. The potency of the drugs purchased online usually surpasses their counterparts sold on the street because drugs are “cut” so dealers have more to sell. For example, the online drug ‘mortal kombats’ contained 205 milligrams of MDMA (the core component of ecstasy), versus its Melbourne street comparison ‘white hearts,’ which contained just 120 milligrams.
What are the risks of buying drugs online?
The challenges of identifying online users is not insurmountable and there is still a risk of getting caught. In June, “twenty-one people were arrested after New South Wales (NSW) Police seized thousands of dollars-worth of illicit drugs traded online in Sydney.” Normal penalties apply for any illegal activities conducted online, including the supply of prohibited drugs, so if people think they cannot get charged for buying drugs online they are wrong.
According to an article published by The Citizen, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service say they “have seized “a significant amount of cocaine and MDMA” using their “world-class detector dogs and cutting edge x-ray technology”.
Elaborate fake drug supply websites also provide another risk. Evolution, the biggest online store for illicit ecommerce suddenly disappeared in March 2015 taking with it millions of dollars in users’ Bitcoins.
Even with the risks, are online drug sales increasing in Sydney, Australia?
The Global Drugs Survey revealed that in 2009 only 5 per cent of respondents bought drugs online versus their 2015 survey that showed a 25% jump, which included 10% of Australian respondents.
As with any other type of ecommerce, online drug sales have been on the rise in recent years. The 2013 closure of one of the most popular “Dark Net” sites, Silkroad, was supposed to curb this phenomenon. However, since then there has been a proliferation of new illicit sites including “Agora, Evolution, Pandora, Blue Sky, Hydra, Cloud Nine, Andromeda, Outlaw, Pirate, BlackBank, Tor Bazaar, Cannabis Garden and Alpaca.”
Buying drugs online has also never been easier. It is no longer for just the tech savvy. As with any other consumer market, illicit ecommerce sites compete hard with each other for customers including providing quality product and excellent customer service. The increase in online drug sales is not due to an increase in drug users. It is a reflection of the quality, safety, and convenience that purchasing online offers the buyer in comparison to purchasing drugs from the street.
Surely the authorities will catch up someday.