Drug Dealing in the 21st Century—How Drugs are Trafficked Online

Online drugdealing
                          Photo by Nikola Stojadinovic/iStockPhoto.com

It’s no mystery by now that the United States is struggling with a severe drug and alcohol addiction epidemic. This has been a public health emergency for almost two decades, a stark crisis that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead and millions of families ruined.

As technology has evolved and as the demand for drugs has grown, some drug trafficking organizations have figured out how to sell drugs online. And as if the U.S. drug crisis could not get any worse, families now must take extra precautions to protect each other from online drug dealers.

Online Drug Trafficking Does Exist

Online drug sales exist, and they can be a particularly tricky avenue by which young people may try to get and use drugs. Parents need to know about online drug sales, and they need to know the steps they can take to prevent their kids from being exposed to drug-buying options online.

The simple truth is that drug dealing no longer occurs in the traditional sense, in the form of a shady transaction occurring on a dark street corner somewhere. “Cryptomarkets” are online shopping centers set up on the dark web to give people a way to buy and sell illegal goods without ever leaving their homes. And efforts are certainly being taken to shut these markets down. For example, a major cryptomarket, the Silk Road, was taken down by the FBI in 2013. But about 50 other cryptomarkets have taken its place since then.

Monthly revenues from online drug trafficking are in the millions of dollars. While in-person drug trafficking and dealing are still extremely relevant, online trafficking is becoming more prevalent as different countries experience surges in addiction and drug use statistics.

Because of their tech-savvy nature and their sense of comfort with the internet, online drug trafficking is of particular appeal to young people. That’s why parents need to be particularly mindful of this issue when working out strategies to protect their families from drug use.

Help from Law Enforcement

Drugs delivery
Photo by digicomphoto/

The Drug Enforcement Administration is doing its best to crack down on online drug sales. Quoting a newly published consumer alert from the DEA on this issue:

“Buying drugs online may not be only illegal, but dangerous. The American Medical Association and state boards of medicine and pharmacy have all condemned the practice of cyber doctors issuing online prescriptions as unacceptable medical care. Drugs delivered by rogue websites may be the wrong drugs, adulterated or expired, the wrong dosage strength, or have no dosage directions or warnings.”

Recently, federal law enforcement officials cracked down on multiple online drug trafficking websites, an operation that led to dozens of arrests. This is a move in the right direction, but for every drug-peddling site shut down, another launches to take its place. Quoting Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen:

“For an increasing number of young addicts, opioids are purchased not from local dealers but from pushers online. Hiding behind anonymizing software known as Tor, a new sort of drug kingpin is now able to reach more buyers than ever before, through online marketplaces peddling every sort of illicit good and service imaginable.”

There’s no doubt that law enforcement groups are working hard to reduce the number of online drug traffickers, but many still slip through. Thus each family needs to take the necessary precautions to ensure drug use does not enter the home via the internet.

Simple Steps to Protect Your Family

It is particularly challenging for national law enforcement agencies to stamp out internet drug trafficking because this is an international problem. More often than not, sellers hocking their products on the dark web are selling drugs from another country. They ship their products overseas and into the States, making it very difficult for local law enforcement to crack down on this type of trafficking.

Families have to step up, understand the present danger of online drug trafficking, and do whatever is necessary to prevent this from occurring. Here are three simple steps parents can take:

Keep communication lines open with kids. Parents should talk to their kids about drugs, inform them of the dangers and risks of drug use, and get their kids thinking about why they would never want to use drugs even if they had the opportunity to do so. These conversations should be had with adult children as well.

Monitor package delivery. Even though an online transaction may be difficult to track, a package delivery should be more obvious. If parents are suspicious, they should monitor package delivery, even for adult kids who still live at home.

Check search history and implement parental control functions. There are ways to track internet search history within the home, and parental controls on internet usage can help make the internet a safer place for young people.

Addiction Treatment – What to Do if You Find a Loved One is Already Using Drugs

Do you know someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol? No matter where they’re getting drugs from, if someone you care about is using mind-altering substances and cannot stop using them on their own determination, they will need to seek help from a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. They might not be willing to do this of their own volition, so you may need to step in, help them, encourage them, even intervene if necessary.

As a final note, addicts who purchase drugs online and have them shipped to their homes are individuals who were likely having trouble integrating into society before they began using mind-altering substances. The very nature of online drug sales and the fact that more reclusive, introverted persons could be using addictive substances in their homes without ever interacting with others, breaks the mold of what is seen as “normal” drug use behavior. Historically, drug use is often begun as a social activity and then transitions into a more individual crutch.

Addict surfing web
Photo by Vladimir Vladimirov/iStockPhoto.com

So it is crucial that we check in on our loved ones, especially the ones who tend to stay at home more and who don’t socialize with others as much. They could be suffering from an addiction to drugs and alcohol and could be feeding that addiction without ever leaving their home.

If you just found out your loved one has been buying drugs online and using them in secret, contact Narconon today. Please don’t wait until it is too late.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.