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Crackdowns Haven't Stopped the Dark Web's $100m Yearly Drug Sales

A stack of coins

According to a new Carnegie Mellon University study, the market for drugs on the Dark Web continues to move well over $100 million in illegal substances each year.

Credit: Getty Images

A new Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) study suggests major law enforcement take-downs of online drug markets have largely failed to dent the traffic in drugs on the Dark Web.

From 2013 to early 2015, CMU researchers Nicolas Cristin and Kyle Soska used automated software to scrape the visible contents of 35 Dark Web markets, providing a comprehensive, if not complete, view of how illegal drug sales fluctuated during that period. They found the Dark Web drug market has largely stabilized following the explosive growth it experienced during the heyday of the Silk Road, and currently generates $100 million to $180 million in annual sales.

The volume of sales has remained stable even in the face of major thefts, scams, takedowns, and arrests. The study found a joint Europol/U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation effort known as Operation Onymous, which took down six major Dark Web sites, barely dented the market, nor did the loss of millions of dollars of users' Bitcoins by the Silk Road 2 market.

Today's Dark Web drug market stands in stark contrast to the earlier days of the online drug market, which was significantly disrupted when the original Silk Road was shuttered in 2013 and after one of its successors, Sheep Marketplace, was closed two months later.

From Wired
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