Drugs from the Dark Web, paid in Bitcoin

Various countries of Europe and America are the source of these drugsCollected

Drug traders are buying all sorts of dangerous narcotic substances from the Dark Web and bringing them into the country. Payment for these drugs is being made in Bitcoin (crypto-currency). These matters were revealed during investigations into a drug-related case, according to the Directorate of Narcotics Control (DNC).

The DNC officials said that towards the end of January the forensic report of the mobile phone and laptop of a drug dealer was submitted to the court. The report revealed details of procurement of drugs over the Dark Web and the transactions involved.

On 5 July last year, the Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested a narcotics trader named Nazmul Islam from Basundhara, Dhaka, in possession of .75 grams (238 coloured printed blotting paper strips) LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). His mobile phone and laptop was examined in the lab of the police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Subrata Sarkar, investigation officer in the case against Nazmul and assistant commissioner of the Directorate of Narcotics Control, speaking to Prothom Alo, said, Nazmul is an active member of a large narcotics ring in Dhaka. He would use the Dark Web to bring in narcotics from abroad, paying in Bitcoin. He had been arrested in 2020 too. He was later released on bail and return to the drug trade. He would basically supply LSD to high-end customers online.

Within just six months of finding the existence of LSD in the country, on 21 November 2021 DOB was found in Khulna. The Directorate of Narcotics Control first arrested two youth, Asif Ahmed and Arnab Kumar Sharma. Later they arrested their associate, a courier service worker Mamunur Rashid, from Dhaka.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, assistant commissioner of the Narcotics Control Directorate Dhaka North Zone, Mehdi Hasan, said two youth brought in 200 blots DOB (Dimethoxy-bromo-amphetamine) from Poland buying the drug with crypto-currency from the Dark Web. They recovered 90 blots DOB from them.

According to officials of the Department of Narcotics Control, LSD and DOB are synthetic drugs made in labs. These are not common drugs in the country and are extremely dangerous. These drugs are sourced in various countries of Europe and America. These drugs affect the mind, sometime creating extremely frightening experiences. The user loses all control over himself.

These drugs affect the mind, sometime creating extremely frightening experiences

Criminals are involved in all sorts of crime on the Dark Web, including drug trade. In November last year, a specialised agency of the police arrested three persons in the country who would buy child porn videos over the Dark Web. They would supply these to others in exchange of money online.

Additional director of the Department of Narcotics Control's Dhaka division office, Zafrullah, told Prothom Alo that many of those who have used the Dark Web to buy drugs with crypto-currency and brought in these into the country, have been brought under the law. However, there are some lackings in technological capacity to identify the criminals active on the Dark Web. A project proposal has been sent to the home ministry for the modernisation of the Department of Narcotics Control, including an increase in technological capacity.

All sorts of illicit and banned items could be bought incognito over the Dark Web. That is why all over the world, the Dark Web is popular with criminals

Special unit can be formed

The forensic report shows that Nazmul would use a special browser on his laptop to enter the Dark Web. Evidence was also found on his mobile phone of using global VPN to buy drugs. There were messages regarding transaction in Bitcoin using the Binance app. Binance is a medium to buy and cell crypto-currency. His WhatsApp account had pictures of various drugs and drug-related financial transactions.

Referring to the Dark Web as a dark world of the internet, officials of the narcotics control directorate said that these websites can't be entered through normal process. All sorts of illicit and banned items could be bought incognito over the Dark Web. That is why all over the world, the Dark Web is popular with criminals. Crypto-currency is used to buy products. The buyers and sellers do not know each other. And there are no records of transactions made with crypto-currency. As a result, even technologically advanced countries have a difficult time in identifying criminals active on the Dark Web.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, professor of Dhaka University's IT Institute, BM Mainul Hossain, said that in various countries special units of the law enforcement agencies monitor the movement of criminals on the Dark Web. They analyse information and data on what sort of posts they make, their content and so on, and thus get an idea of the crime and the criminals. Based on that, they identify many criminals.

Mainul Hossain said that after making a purchase, they use an address when paying in crypto-currency. Even if those are fake addresses, an analysis of the information and data often leads to the criminal. So a special unit manned with persons skilled in technology can be formed for surveillance to identify criminals on the Dark Web.