Drug-Related Deaths Increase in Europe, Dark Web Remains Driving Factor

Drug-Related Deaths Increase in Europe, Dark Web Remains Driving Factor

The new European Drug Report released by European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) discovered that one-quarter of all people ages 15 to 64 in the EU which accounts to around 93 million Europeans have consumed illegal drugs in the past.

In 2015 alone, 1 million drug-related offenses were registered by the European Union and countries outside the EU have also reported a significant increase in drug consumption and possession.

One of the major issues highlighted by the European Drug Report was the increased death toll in Europe, Germany in particular, as a result of drug overdose. According to the European drug report, 8,400 people faced deaths in Europe after being overdosed on heroin and other deadly drugs such as fentanyl.

Most recently, DeepDotWeb reported that a Colorado man was sentenced to five years in a community corrections facility for purchasing fentanyl on the dark web. Investigators have found that fentanyl purchased 22-year-old Christopher Malcolm led to the deaths of his brother and a friend due to fentanyl overdose.

In a statement, District Attorney Bruce Brown said, “the prosecution of drug suppliers whose actions result in the death of users continues to be a high priority for this office.”

Due to the rapid increase in consumption and distribution of fentanyl and heroin through the dark web and darknet marketplaces, recorded deaths as a result of drug overdose increased by over 6 percent from 2014. Julian Vincente, an analyst at the public health department of EMCDDA, noted that the sharp increase of drug-related deaths in Europe is a worrying development particularly because it reversed a long-term trend.

The European Drug Report emphasized that death toll due to drug overdose has been on a downward trend since 2008. For six straight years, the number of people overdosed by drugs such as heroin and fentanyl continuously decreased. Vincente explained that 2015’s reversal of the long-term trend is a development that needs to be taken into consideration.

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According to the data revealed by the European Drug Report and distributed by DW, drug-related deaths nearly reached a record breaking toll in 2016, moving closer to the peak recorded in 2008. Specifically, Germany recorded a rapid increase in death-related deaths since 2012, which surged from 944 to 1333 in a period of four years. In consideration of the 8,400 drug-related deaths recorded in 2015, Germany accounted for approximately 16 percent of drug-related deaths recorded in the EU.

Experts at EMCDDA stated that dark web and darknet marketplaces remain as the two driving factors of increased drug sale. Although dark web currently accounts for a small fraction of the illicit global drugs market, EMCDDA specialist Teodora Groshkova explained that the dark we could result in a drastic change in the drug trading ecosystem in the upcoming years.

Groshkova noted that the dark web is allowing larger groups of users including young drug users and traders to gain access to large drug suppliers. While dark web and darknet marketplaces are relatively new to the global drugs market, analysts in the past have described operations within the dark web as carefully structured criminal operations and businesses that have been structured similarly to large-scale commercial businesses.

In an interview with DW, Andrew Cunningham of the EMCDDA also revealed that new psychoactive substances are becoming a new global trend. Synthetic substances are much stronger than deadly drugs such as heroin and although it is still a small market, there exists a large possibility that it could move onto anonymous markets such as the dark web.

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