Regulating Online Illicit Drug Marketplaces: Issues And Solutions


An important characteristic of offenders and criminal organizations is their ability to adapt. Traditionally, this ability has been studied through research that focused on the different stages of criminal scripts. Such research would seek to understand how and why a criminal organization would substitute, abandon or create a new stage in their criminal script (Lacoste & Tremblay, 2003). This paper draws from such research but will focus on adaptation at a much higher level. It aims to understand how offenders, particularly those active on the Internet, moved to a ‘crime as a service model’ (Caas: DATE?) and the impact of this shift. This is evidenced by way of an in-depth case study of online illicit markets where illicit goods and services can be bought and sold. Most interesting to us here is the creation of cryptomarkets, online illicit drug markets that operate outside the reach of most law-enforcement agencies. This paper is divided into four sections. In the first, the shift from traditional offending to the crime as a service model is presented. In the second, we detail the rise of cryptomarkets and the characteristics that distinguish cryptomarkets from other online illicit markets. In the third, we review past police operations and enforcement of cryptomarkets. In the fourth and last section, we offer some possible solutions to the regulation of cryptomarkets.

This content has been updated on 8 August 2016 at 17 h 58 min.