Author: Dell Cameron / Source: Gizmodo
Roughly three-fifths of the weapons sold on a selection of dark web marketplaces originate from the United States, according to a new study examining the scope of the internet’s black market arms trade.
The first of its kind, a report from RAND Corporation details the ever-expanding role of the dark web in facilitating the sale of firearms, ammunition, and explosives. In addition to RAND, the report was compiled with the help of Judith Aldridge, a professor of criminology at the University of Manchester.
“While the use of these platforms as facilitators for illicit drug trade has increasingly been the subject of research by a number of academics, little has been done to conduct a systematic investigation of the role of the dark web in relation to the illegal arms trade, drawing on the insights offered by primary data,” the report says.
The study, conducted over a six-day period in September 2016, draws from data collected from 811 listings on 12 cryptomarkets. The findings suggest that the dark web is increasingly a source of “better performing, more recent firearms for the same, or lower, price, than would be available on the street or the black market.” (Generally speaking, firearms sold on cryptomarkets go for higher than retail price, the report notes.)
Of the 811 listings, 41 percent were for firearms; 27 percent were for arms-related digital products; and 22 percent were for ammunition. The most common firearms sold were pistols (84 percent) while rifles and submachine guns made up 10 and 6 percent of the listings, respectively.
The overall value of the arms listings examined by Rand was estimated at roughly $80,000 the…
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