Scientists and analysts from the Michigan State University went into a study to determine how armaments are anonymously acquired all over the world through dark web markets. They have noted that despite the law enforcement agencies making and instilling laws regarding trade in weaponry, darknet vendors still continue to carry out the illegal business. Moreover, many of their operations are very discreet and draw little or no attention from authorities.

Research shows that the arms trade ignores many laws stipulated in the U.S. and many other nationalities all over the world where there are more strict regulations.

Professor Thomas Holt from Michigan State University (MSU) stated that scientists do not have adequate information regarding the sales of weapons on the darknet, and therefore, it becomes a sort of black hole. This is also the case for the illicit sale of narcotics and other pharmaceuticals. Researchers only know that such items are acquired online, but they do not know the extent of the trade.

Professor Holt specializes in criminal justice. He is also the co-author of a book that encourages people to understand how guns are moved, how they are purchased and what type of guns are sold. Holt upholds such research saying that it will be the key to understand the use of the internet for the distribution of guns.

Additionally, the price of such guns on the dark web and the price of the same guns in licensed stores was almost the same

Additionally, the price of such guns on the dark web and the price of the same guns in licensed stores was almost the same

In another statement, Holt said that it was surprising that most of the armaments were not the type used by military personnel or the rare and exotic kind. Instead, most of them were handguns, the type of weapons any certified gun holder in the U.S. can easily acquire from licensed gun stores. Statistics show that 64% of the items advertised on the darknet were handguns while 17% were long semi-automatic guns. Fully automated long guns only took up 4% of the products.

Additionally, the price of such guns on the dark web and the price of the same guns in licensed stores was almost the same. This makes many wonders why buyers would opt to acquire the arms illegally. Holt explained that this happened because some buyers are denied the privilege to be licensed gun holders while others live in countries with very strict laws regarding the acquisition and possession of firearms. There are also purchasers who intend to commit crimes without authorities tracing the act back to them, so they purchase unregistered firearms.

Between February and May 2016, an MSU team looked into the shops and market websites on the dark web and noted a common trend. Vendors sold their weapons in exchange for payment in bitcoins. They would then use the post office to deliver the product to their customers.

Holt stated that the sellers are very particular on how to carry out the transaction in order to maintain the business a secret from law enforcers. Some sellers indicated on the profile that they carried out their operations outside Europe, which may not be the entire truth. Other than that, there is little else known about the whereabouts and identity of such people.

Often, the sellers would ship the product in separate parts which were disguised as books, cocoa, shoes, computer fragments, and other innocent looking items. This tactic enabled them to escape the scrutinizing eye of authorities. It also alerted them if customs confiscated part of the product for being contraband so that they would find a way to replace it.

These findings indicate the need to mobilize and utilize more resources into illicit weaponry trade investigations. Holts insists that the investigations should be taken seriously because the markets are very crucial and have great potential for growth and change. One successful purchase can cause the death of a person, and therefore, a great threat to society.

Even with current technological improvements, researchers are unable to uncover the true identity of the vendors and their customers. However, they can confirm that the transactions do indeed take place at the local level and across borders. 

Weaponry purchasers break many government laws in the process especially if after the weapon is acquired it is used to cause harm. Researchers say there is an increasing potential for major cases of violence and the real danger is that they cannot tell the extent of such cases.

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Dark Web, News,

Last Update: May 27, 2019