The Silk Road was launched in 2011, and since its commencement, the dark web markets have raised significantly. Since such sites are secretive, the attraction of data is a challenge. In 2015, a researcher under the name Gwern Branwen made some discovery on such content. Approximately once a week or sometimes even on a daily basis, the programmes he wrote had crawled into 90 different cryptomarkets from December 2013 to July 2015. He kept a screenshot of each page and the 52 GB data was made available publicly.
In the sea of web, the surface web includes websites like Google then there is deep web and dark web. The Tor is free software which allows using internet incognito, keeping one’s IP address and location hidden. This is the deep web. The use of Tor is not illegal, but because of its anonymity feature, it is mostly used for illegal purposes and famous in the dark web, the bottom layer. The data transaction in the dark web has increased significantly. The Dark Net Markets (DNMs) are an online marketplace for users who transact in cryptocurrencies for the transaction of illegal goods like drugs that maintains inscrutability. The most famous DNM is Silk Road 1. The buyers and seller use secure dark-web services and encryption software.
The data of almost 1.5 terabytes was extracted by The Economist with information on nearly 360,000 sales done on dark online marketplace including Agora, Silk Road 2 and Evolution. The data collected by Branwen has faults. Therefore, any transaction with ridiculously high prices was omitted. This was because such holding prices could be fake sales and reviews by vendors to depict lack of supply. Moreover, since the transactions are based on bitcoins, the accuracy of price conversions is also not accurate. However, the quantity of transactions gives an overview of what the scenario looks like.
The total value of transaction amounts to almost $50 million. The most popular product is marijuana with nearly 38,000 sales while MDMA (ecstasy) was sold at the highest value. A third of the sales were made using names such as the Pink Panther that did not fall any defined category of illegal transactions. Legal drugs like oxycodone and valium were also popular.
The drugs sold on these websites are pricey than what one pays for in the streets; in general as twice as much. However, it is not the case in Australia as the prices of narcotics are priced as much as three to four times higher than the world average. Australia being a farther continent makes the prices much higher in streets. For instance, a gram of heroin bought for $75 in the Netherlands gets priced to almost $290 when it reaches Australia. One of the reasons that raise the prices is postage and packaging costs that increase the cost by around 28%.
Here is a picture published by the Economist on the value of sales transactions on the dark web.
(All the data in this article are extracted from The Economist and images from Google general search)