The potential role of the Internet in facilitating drugs trade first gained mass attention with the rise and fall of Silk Road; the first major online market place for illegal goods on the hidden web. After Silk Road was taken down by the FBI in October 2013, it was only a matter of weeks before copycats filled the void.

Today, there are around 50 so-called cryptomarkets and vendor shops where anonymous sellers and buyers find each other to trade illegal drugs, new psychoactive substances, prescription drugs and other goods and services. But it is not just the obscure parts of the Internet where drugs are on offer. There are numerous web shops, easily found by search engines, which offer new psychoactive substances, often labelled as 'research chemicals'.

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