India catches first ‘darknet’ narcotics operative

Authorities in India have brought down a narcotics trafficker who was active on two dark web marketplaces. The suspect is alleged to have sold illegal drugs to clients in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Romania and other European countries. He used international couriers to deliver his products and only accepted payments in cryptocurrencies to evade the authorities.

India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested Dipu Singh on Sunday in Alambagh, Lucknow. Describing him as India’s first dark web narcotics operative, the authorities claimed that he operated on two marketplaces – Majestic Garden and Empire Market.

Rajesh Nandan Srivastava, the Deputy Director General of the NCB explained, “Singh had mastered the technique to disguise the identity while making a shipment. It was learnt that the said parcel was devoid of KYC details.”

Singh met his clients via the dark web where they made their orders. The NCB claims that some orders were made via WhatsApp and other B2B platforms. The clients would then pay him in crypto which allowed him to evade the legal hurdles. He would ship the drugs to his clients through global post offices and international courier services.

NCB’s Mumbai Zonal Unit made three seizures, recovering 33,000 Tramadol and Zolpidam tablets which they linked to Singh and his international network. The Delhi team seized another 22,000 tablets. Earlier in December, this team had seized a shipment of 9,000 tablets meant for the U.K. It then alerted authorities in the U.K. about two other shipments destined for the country from India, leading to their seizure. Other seizures include 9,000 tablets destined for Romania which the NCB intercepted on January 17 this year.

While India may be arresting its first dark web narcotics trafficker, other countries have arrested plenty more. The U.S. is probably first on this list, with the DoJ having brought several dark web traffickers to book. This year, the DoJ indicted a 39-year-old woman whom it accused of selling heroine and methamphetamine via the dark web. The woman, who faces over 100 years in prison if convicted, allegedly received payments in BTC and conducted her business on Wall Street Market, the second-largest dark web marketplace then. It was brought down by German authorities last year.

The U.S. government has also seized quite a number of dark web marketplaces over the past years, with some of their owners serving time in jail already. Last year, the FBI brought down DeepDotWeb, an information dark web site that directed users to the products they sought, making a commission off it. The FBI alleged that the site made 8,155 BTC from its activities, worth about $85 million by current rates.

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