Po­lice warn off dark web drug buy­ers

Pilbara News - - News - Gabrielle Knowles

West Aus­tralians us­ing the dark web to buy drugs are be­ing warned they will be caught and pros­e­cuted as po­lice in­crease ef­forts to in­ter­cept il­licit im­ports sent by air­mail and freight.

Twenty-nine peo­ple have been charged since Jan­uary af­ter X-ray screen­ing of let­ters and parcels un­cov­ered 724g of metham­phetamine, 1.85kg of MDMA, 2kg of LSD and 14kg of cannabis as well as syn­thetic cannabis, steroids and co­caine, in hun­dreds of pack­ages des­tined for West Aus­tralians.

Po­lice claim many WA users and deal­ers are buy­ing drugs on the dark web be­cause they be­lieve it is anony­mous and safe.

Pro­fes­sion­als who do not want to risk face-to-face ex­changes with crim­i­nals, and teens buy­ing drugs for them­selves and mates are among those charged, po­lice say.

“Some of them have no crim­i­nal record and don’t seem to re­alise that what they are do­ing can re­sult in them be­ing charged with pos­ses­sion of a pro­hib­ited drug with in­tent to sell or sup­ply,” Det-Sen. Sgt Keith Neubron­ner said.

“They might be good on com­put­ers and they’re buy­ing it for a mate but once they do that, they’re sup­ply­ing drugs and they risk go­ing to jail.”

While many of those sell­ing il­le­gal items on the dark web are over­seas and dif­fi­cult to track, po­lice are fo­cused on in­ter­cept­ing il­licit pack­ages and iden­ti­fy­ing the peo­ple who or­dered them.

The or­gan­ised crime squad, with the help of Aus­tralian Bor­der Force, turned their at­ten­tion to air and sea ship­ments in 2015 as part of ef­forts to stem the flow of metham­phetamine into WA. The op­er­a­tions have had an im­pact on the il­licit trade, with some dark web ven­dors ex­press­ing re­luc­tance to send drugs to WA and oth­ers ban­ning meth­ods they think are more likely to be in­ter­cepted.

Univer­sity of WA Cen­tre for Soft­ware Prac­tice di­rec­tor David Glance, said it was very easy to ac­cess the dark web, which used en­cryp­tion soft­ware to pro­tect users from be­ing traced.

The soft­ware can be down­loaded from the nor­mal web and once in the dark web, users can find sites and ser­vices through a browser.

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