Narcotics on Dark Web Pose Immense Danger to Youths

As the opioid crisis in this country grows, it is being aided by a culprit once believed to be vanquished from the scene — the internet. The New York Times recently reported the resurgence of narcotics trafficking on what is known as the “dark web” and kids, sometimes younger than 18, are finding their way to these hidden websites. The Times reported the tragic deaths of two 13-year-old boys who accessed a synthetic opioid drug in this way.“This has been an epidemic in recent years,” says Kenneth England, a primary therapist with Promises Malibu. “I have seen people as young as 18 getting drugs through the internet and/or dark web.”“As people who are growing up in the “connectivity age,” they want privacy and to be doing “cool stuff,” so they are drawn to sneaky tactics such as this,” he says. “They find these sites by word of mouth, in conversations meant to impress others with their knowledge of the mysterious but deadly place to find drugs.”

Adolescents today are born into internet use, so finding these deeply hidden websites is often not as hard as it might be for adults who are not familiar with technology. They get to sites unreachable by the “surface web,” and make connections and payments, and the drugs are mailed out in a plain envelope.

The resurgence of drug sales on the dark web and the recent deaths sadly illustrate the dramatic drug problem in our country and how it’s targeting young people.

“This is a sign that the drug epidemic is worse than ever before,” says England. “Heroin used to be the most taboo drug in existence and now any person with an internet connection and a credit card or bitcoins can get deadly drugs.”

What Is the Dark Web?

A study on anonymous marketplace systems revealed that the Silk Road was one of the “successful” online marketplaces of this kind for narcotics trafficking in February 2011. It rapidly boomed, competitors emerged, and law enforcement stepped in, closing it down in October 2011.

New enterprises are arising, however, and law enforcement is trying to crack down again, but it is unclear just how many there are or how deeply they are embedded.

Most people who use the internet to search for information use popular search engines such as Google or search directories such as Yahoo. Once someone types in a question, the search engine will “crawl” or “spider” documents to create a new page with search results. Research shows there are billions of documents available through multiple search engines. For example, if you put in the right search words, you can find about 1.35 billion documents via Google.

This is not the case with the dark web, sometimes called the deep web. It’s a different kind of place.

It is akin to coming off the main road in a city and walking down a side street where creepy characters step out of the shadows and try to sell you dangerous substances or illegal contraband.  Kids can be tempted into this shady, illegal area where criminals lurk.

Awareness is the first step to prevention.

What Can Parents Do?

  1. Teach your children. Educate kids early on about the dangers of drugs.

 

  1. Instruct them on internet use. Also teach them the dangers of going to strange websites. Let them know that it is never OK to connect with unknown and illegal entities on the internet. In addition, they need to understand the reality that if they buy something, they can’t know the real chemical composition of what they are getting from the internet. It can kill them.

 

  1. Monitor internet activity. Parents are afraid sometimes to make it seem that they do not trust their kids. But their health can depend on it. Put parental controls on computers and devices and if you don’t understand technology, have their devices checked regularly for searches and inappropriate apps by professionals.

 

  1. Have an open dialog. Plan on having a nonjudgmental conversation with your kids about the current state of affairs that are creating concern and tell kids it is truly frightening as a parent to see all that can go wrong, just by taking one step in the wrong direction. 

Sources

Opioid Dealers Embrace the Dark Web to Sender Deadly Drugs By Mail

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/10/business/dealbook/opioid-dark-web-drug-overdose.html

Measuring the Longitudinal Evolution of the Online Anonymous Marketplace Ecosystem

https://www.usenix.org/node/190887

White Paper: The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0007.104

Posted on July 26th, 2017
Posted in Articles

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