As Dark-Web Drug Trade Rebuilds and Gets Smarter, Authorities Will Need to Do the Same

Jun 18, 2019


Where there’s a market, there’s a way. That appears to be the approach dark web sites, which sell illegal drugs and prescription narcotics, takes.

Law enforcement agents in the United States and Europe recently have swept in and shut down online drug markets, including two major dark web sites, Wall Street Market and Valhalla, but after a few arrests and the dust settles, about 30 online illegal markets remain and new ones pop up every day.

On some sites, shoppers can buy everything from high-grade heroin and crack cocaine to the highly-addictive, prescription painkiller, OxyContin. The dark web also is considered as a rich source of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, which are often produced in China and are exponentially more potent than heroin.

Authorities are finding sellers, who use unique screen names and accept cryptocurrency that are both difficult to track, would rather take their chances selling drugs and earning from their comforts of their couches than fear arrest. In a nutshell, online drug havens are becoming as difficult, if not more, than those on the streets.

A Little History on Dark Web Drug Sales

Illegal online drug platforms have spiked and matured since the days of Silk Road, the pioneering dark web drug marketplace that got its start selling magic mushrooms in 2011.

Authorities thought shutting down Silk Road and arresting its founder in 2013 would scare other potential online drug dealers away. Instead, they upped their games by using browsers that hid their locations and accepting cryptocurrency, which is near impossible to track.

To fight back, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) created the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement team in 2018. Europol created a similar taskforce. By the next year, authorities were able to take down quite a few dark net sites and make dozens of arrests.

What to Expect in the Future for Dark Web Drug Sites

Authorities believe their actions have slowed down sales, but believe it is likely only temporary.

In response, some dark web sites have stopped selling fentanyl to make them less attractive and vulnerable to authorities. They also have taken other steps to make it more difficult for law enforcement to target them. Newer sites claim they have figured out others’ flaw that allowed police to detect them.

Some have also considered moving away from large marketplaces and are opting to operate on a smaller scale by selling directly to customers through encrypted messaging systems. These systems are very difficult for authorities to crack.

In Conclusion

Like any market that is known for illegal activity, authorities will need to get more creative as criminals get more sophisticated to try and stop them.

As long as there is a market for illicit drugs, sellers will find ways to supply them. Though it appears that authorities have made progress on several fronts, new dark web markets have crept back in, indicating nothing has scared sellers from backing down. What happens next is unclear but few dozen arrests and market shutdowns won’t mean the end.

Apply for Merchant Account Services

If you are an online business looking for merchant account services that include fraud mitigation tools and resources, then consider eMerchantBroker.com. EMB works with high-risk merchants and provides fraud filters and chargeback mitigation alerts. Apply online today using its simple online application. Eligible applicants get approved in a couple of days.

Let us help you get a high risk merchant account today!

Get Started

Award winning.

  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016

Having a merchant account allows an account holder to take advantage of merchant cash advances. When a merchant is approved for an advance, the business agrees to receive a lump sum of cash in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of future credit card sales.

Pricing varies depending on the merchant’s industry, past credit card processing history, the type of business seeking the account, average ticket sales, and average transaction volumes.

Yes, EMB works with merchants who are building their credit, as well as those who have poor credit. EMB also approves merchants that have no credit card processing history and businesses that have lost their merchant accounts due to high chargebacks.

Several factors influence a merchant’s risk level. Though only one factor likely will not get a merchant classified as high risk, a combination of these may: business size, location, and industry, credit score, credit card processing history, a industry’s reputation for excessive chargebacks, a prior history of high chargeback ratios, and whether a merchant exclusively sells online.

Virtual terminals are stationed on a merchant’s website, making it easy for customers to make a payment or purchase online. Merchants or a payment processor can easily set up virtual terminals, so online businesses can accept credit and debit card and e-check transactions.

A merchant account is a business account with an acquiring bank. Without this business account, which actually works more like a line of credit, a merchant cannot accept and process credit and debit card transactions. Businesses need a merchant account to accept major credit cards via a static point-of-sale terminal, mobile card reader, or through a virtual payment gateway.

After filling out EMB’s simple online application and submitting any necessary, requested documents, many merchants get approved within 24 and 48 hours.

EMB specializes in working with high-risk merchants. EMB works with many merchants, including but not limited to businesses in these industries: gambling and gaming, adult entertainment, nutraceuticals, vaping and e-cigarettes, electronics, tech support, travel, high-end furniture, weight loss programs, calling cards, e-books and software, and telecommunications.

Live Chat