Since the arrest of the alleged administrator of the Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, by the FBI and the closure of the Utopia market place earlier this year, law enforcement agencies have made very little progress in stopping the activities of online drug markets. The pending implementation of new technological and organisational structures by market administrators will continue to cause significant challenges to enforcement agencies. At present the greatest risk to the survival of individual drug markets comes not from law enforcement agencies but from within their own communities.

This publication describes three current significant threats that can have a detrimental impact on Darknet operations:

  1. Competing markets threaten the existence of each other in two distinct ways. The first is typical of any competitive free market system as online black markets survive and make profits only when buyers and sellers are using them. The second threat competing markets pose is when they become openly hostile to each other. 
  2. Hacking, extortion and misinformation can be highly detrimental to a market’s reputation, which is one of the key indicators used by buyers and sellers to decide upon its legitimacy.
  3. Scam markets have the potential to cause significant issues for the online narcotics trade.

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