Cryptocurrencies are the most popular payment method used on the darknet. Recent times have seen cryptocurrencies being tied to illegal drugs and activities quite a lot. Adding to this factor is the modern-day pop culture that often depicts cryptocurrencies as a mere currency for criminal activities. As of now, “drug sales on the darknet” is a phrase that has become synonymous with “drug purchased with cryptocurrency.”
The untraceable nature of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, make them the perfect tool for the drug trade. A University of Sydney report estimates that almost 46% of illegal activity per year is associated with Bitcoin. Most of this is somehow tied to drugs.
The 2019 Global Drugs Survey notes that around of 27.1% of surveyed drug users obtained illegal substances for the first time via the darknet in the last 12 months. The recent rise in online drug sales has been credited to the use of cryptocurrencies that makes the sale anonymous and easy. Prior to the global popularity of cryptocurrencies, fiat was the means of payment for centuries. Despite this fact, Cash still retains a central role in facilitating drug sales.
On many instances, the authorities have found cryptocurrencies directly on the scene and this has led to billions of cryptocurrencies being ceased in connection to drugs. Most recently, the Australian Border Force (ABF) has seized over $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrencies found on an electronic device was retrieved from a suspicious couple who were carrying 55g of MDMA tablets and powder.
The drugs were spotted during a screening of international mail where the authorities uncovered 27.5g of MDMA tablets and 27.5g of MDMA powder, concealed in children’s toys. Upon further investigation, the border forces were led to search a property where they uncovered AUD$1,524,102 ($1,022,827) worth of cryptocurrency. This has been noted as the biggest cryptocurrency seizure of its sort.
Paul Matthews, Officer in Charge of the Drug & Firearm squad said:
“While WA Police Force has seized millions of dollars’ worth of physical property and bank account assets in the course of several drug investigations, particularly those involving established criminal networks.
The identification and freezing of over $1.5 million of cryptocurrency in these circumstances highlight the current digital environment in which law enforcement agencies must operate.
Using the latest technologies and digital forensic techniques, we thoroughly investigate all possible methods of holding financial assets, and will target all forms of wealth that may be derived from the illicit drug trade.”
Governments and media have put the entire blame on cryptocurrencies, but before the availability of electronic payment, drug trades were equally flourishing with the use of fiat. Crypto payments have just made the process a lot easier. As a matter of fact, it is ridiculous to blame a mode of payment for the damages caused by the activities it was used in. Any currency can be used in these scenarios, it’s a matter of putting an end to the people or organizations that are involved in theses illegal activities.
Crypto is still an emerging industry, even though it is safer than fiat transfers, cashing out is still a complicated and unsafe procedure. This is the sole reason why crypto will never completely replace cash in these activities. Cryptocurrencies are transforming how we perceive money and are the key players of the modern financial revolution. We can hope that someday governments would also look past these accusations and see the true utility of cryptocurrencies.