DeepDotWeb has offered extensive coverage on how the dark web and its marketplaces have evolved into well-structured criminal organizations over the past few years, making it that much more difficult for governments and law enforcement agencies to track.
The sophisticated structures of dark web marketplaces and criminal organizations have been highlighted by various law enforcement agencies including the French national security service, the Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information (ANSSI). DeepDotWeb previously reported that the French government and its security officials believe that the dark web is playing a vital role in supplying ammunitions and weapons to terrorist groups including ISIS.
More to that, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Europol director Rob Wainwright emphasized that the dark web has introduced a method in which terrorist groups can acquire weapons and arms anonymously, with privacy-focused digital currencies such as Monero and anonymous delivery locations.
“Even if they don’t have access to the capabilities, they can simply buy it on the darknet, where there is an enormous trade in cyber criminal technology. That said, attacking the critical national infrastructures at least of most countries is… not easily done, and it’s something that is not as immediate and showy as firing automatic weapons in a theatre or in public,” said Wainwright.
Earlier this week, sources including RAND Corporation revealed that many dark web marketplaces, criminal organizations and arms dealers in the US have been shipping weapons to Europe through encrypted platforms and messaging applications.
On March 30, European law enforcement agencies led by the Spanish National Police and ANSSI drastically tightened their arms regulations with the focus set on taking down dark web marketplaces and suppliers. However, dark web suppliers have found ways to circumvent the regulations. For instance, a new report published by the RAND Corporation revealed that US suppliers have been using the dark web to ship deactivated weapons and explosives with detailed manuals and instructions. That way, recipients of the deactivated arms can simply assemble them using manuals and active the weapons.
Experts including Julio Hernandez-Castro from the University of Kent noted that dark web marketplaces and arms suppliers have become far more sophisticated in the methods they use in comparison to a few years ago. Hernandez-Castro explained drastic changes in the x-ray detection processes at post offices should be made in order to restrict dark web distributions or fire arms.
In an interview with Motherboard, Giacomo Persi Paoli, the RAND Europe report author, further emphasized that the dark web gun market is significantly larger than law enforcement agencies and governments think. During an investigation led by RAND Corporation, researchers and authors including Paoli discovered that there already exists more than 52 unique vendors operating dark web marketplaces to sell ammunition, explosives and silencers.
The report also revealed that the profit margins are substantially higher for dark web arms dealer when distributing to regions with stricter firearms regulations, such as Europe. Researchers at RAND estimated that each vendor or marketplace can generate up to $80,000 as monthly revenue, with pistols being sold the most.
“Europe was a main recipient, both in terms of the number of confirmed transactions ending up in Europe, but also in terms of revenue. I really hope this report helps put a little bit of evidence on a lot of the urban legends that are around there,” said Paoli.