The media payed special attention to cybercrime following several key moments throughout world history. The ongoing struggle between Russia and the United States, for instance, placed a spotlight on “election hackers” and hacking in general. With added attention to internet crime came added attention to the darknet. Although the rise of the original Silk Road attracted attention from the media, the excitement rapidly declined as did the original Silk Road. Now, law enforcement worldwide publicly acknowledged the rapidly growing online trade—most recently, the Portuguese Judiciary Police.
Pedro Veiga, coordinator of the National Center for Cybersecurity, acknowledged that the darknet came from “good intentions.” He explained why US government researchers built Tor: rogue parties often attempted to steal classified information if transmitted over the clearnet. “A ‘normal’ internet web was created to guarantee the privacy of these journalists. It was very difficult to detect the person’s location or even who he was,” Veiga Explained.
“It started and was developed for a good purpose, but later on, criminals began to take advantage of this new medium to anonymously use the internet. This part is called darknet,” he added.
The department’s own, independent study called the 2015 Annual Report on Internal Security revealed an increase in darknet drug trafficking. Both singular instances and crime syndicates. One example, although the report left any mention of the words darknet or dark web, was that of a drug bust in March. The Judiciary Police raided a drug laboratory in the Greater Lisbon area that tested drugs in exchange for Bitcoin. Drug testing orders were placed on the internet with Bitcoin and the lab tested the drug in question.
While no names were mentioned, the structure and setup sounds similar to that of Energy Control and the DNM Avengers. The Greater Lisbon lab likely operated on a similar fashion. Since the report left out any mention of the darknet or deepweb, few know if the lab operated on the darknet. Artur Vaz, coordinator of Criminal Investigation for the Judiciary Police, reported that the raid marked the first time the police seized bitcoins in a case.
In 2015, 0.31 grams of heroin, 21,033 grams of cocaine, 27,520 grams of cannabis and 495 grams of ecstasy arrived at mailing stations, an official said. This number, he explained, is still quite low in comparison with conventionally trafficked narcotics. However the number is rising and becoming a concern for the Judiciary Police. “The drugs can be ordered over the internet, but they have to be delivered physically. The orders made via darknet are sent by parcel post to people’s houses. This is something the Judiciary Police are aware of,” Artur Vaz said.
They closed with figures that modeled the origin of drugs from overseas. For instance, Brazil provided the most cocaine and Morocco mailed the most cannabis. Cannabis is also sent from France, Belgium, Austria, Germany and United Kingdom, he explained. Regardless of any darknet trend, he c explained that according to current figures, darknet buyers needed to order significantly more drugs to match the physical traffickers.