UK-based online drug dealers have captured 16 percent of the market in January, topping all of their own European rivals, a research shows.
British dealers sold £1.7 million ($2.2 million) worth of drugs online, researchers at Rand Europe said Thursday, after monitoring the eight largest drug marketplaces on the so-called dark web which can only be accessed through special software.
The organization warned that the number of online drug deals had tripled since 2013, when Silk Road, a notorious online black market, was taken down by American law agencies.
However, the organization noted that online sales are still minimal compared to Europe’s overall drug trade which goes up to £1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) a month
Rand admitted that the secretive nature of the online drug business made it difficult to produce more precise estimates of the market’s overall size.
However, it suggested that most deals were done on the same continent and this made locally grown cannabis the most popular drug, which accounted for a third of transactions.
Demand for prescription-only medicines was also high, accounting for 19 percent of all purchases.
“Drugs typically associated with recreational or ‘party’ use” were generally traded the most, the research concluded.
This is while in offline markets, heroin is one of the most wanted drugs, accounting for 28 percent of the sales.
“A possible explanation for these differences between online and offline markets may be that crypto-market purchases typically require an element of planning, which may not suit the daily use of dependent users of, for instance, heroin,” Rand Europe noted.
The organization also found that in global online market, the US was on top, earning £3.8 million ($5 million) in January alone, 35 percent of all transactions.