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Forensic Sci Int. 2017 Aug;277:88-102. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2017.05.021. Epub 2017 Jun 4.

A geographical analysis of trafficking on a popular darknet market.

Author information

1
School of Criminal Justice, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland. Electronic address: julian.broseus@unil.ch.
2
School of Criminal Justice, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
3
Centre for Forensic Science, University of Technology, Sydney, Broadway, NSW, Australia.

Abstract

Cryptomarkets are online marketplaces, located on the darknet, that facilitate the trading of a variety of illegal goods, mostly drugs. While the literature essentially focus on drugs, various other goods and products related to financial or identity fraud, firearms, counterfeit goods, as well as doping products are also offered on these marketplaces. Through the analysis of relevant data collected on a popular marketplace in 2014-2015, Evolution, this research provides an analysis of the structure of trafficking (types and proportions of products, number of vendors and shipping countries). It also aims at highlighting geographical patterns in the trafficking of these products (e.g. trafficking flows, specialisation of vendors and assessment of their role in the distribution chain). The analysis of the flow of goods between countries emphasises the role of specific countries in the international and domestic trafficking, potentially informing law enforcement agencies to target domestic mails or international posts from specific countries. The research also highlights the large proportion of licit and illicit drug listings and vendors on Evolution, followed by various fraud issues (in particular, financial fraud), the sharing of knowledge (tutorials) and finally goods, currencies and precious metals (principally luxury goods). Looking at the shipping country, there seems to be a clear division between digital and physical products, with more specific information for physical goods. This reveals that the spatial analysis of trafficking is particularly meaningful in the case of physical products (such as illicit drugs) and to a lesser extent for digital products. Finally, the geographical analysis reveals that spatial patterns on Evolution tend to reflect the structure of the traditional illicit market. However, regarding illicit drugs, country-specificity has been observed and are presented in this article.

KEYWORDS:

Cryptomarket; Digital traces; Illicit market; NPS; Spatial analysis; Trafficking flows

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