• notebookcomputer
  • 13/07/2022

Inside Britain's secret online cocaine dealing with drugs sent in post Amazon-style

Britain is now the biggest market place in Europe for secret online cocaine dealing, chilling new figures reveal.

The country also accounts for a THIRD of the £733million worth of the drug sold each year worldwide on the dark web.

And the National Crime Agency estimates a huge chunk of the UK’s £244million cocaine industry conducted on the internet’s sinister underworld is bought by users here.

More and more tech-savvy ­children and teenagers are being drawn into the dark web’s world because it offers them a “Harry Potter style invisibility cloak” in their search for drugs.

This week the NCA confirmed there were “more customers for cocaine in the UK so more is supplied”.

And the biggest dealers in Britain can rake in up to £80million a year, shipping cocaine to buyers Amazon-style – with same-day deliveries from dark web shopping sites hidden from mainstream internet users.

They even send shipments in the post. Our investigators logged into the internet’s shadowy underbelly and found dozens of listings for top-end pure cocaine, with just a few mouse clicks.

One listing offered “fish scale” Peruvian, high in potency, at £73 per gram. Another UK dealer called Billy Bobs House boasts of selling “high-purity cocaine (sniffing only)” which can be shipped for just £50 by Royal Mail.

And another – using the moniker UK County Lines – is flogging 1g of “uncut cocaine” with 90% purity for £70. The vendor will ship anywhere in the UK and adds: “Every effort is put in place whilst packing the product to avoid detection.

“First it goes into the baggie, then into a mylar bag which is then placed into a card and then into an envelope. Finally it is placed in a padded jiffy.”

Elsewhere a seller using the name Escobars Mums Cocaine – a reference to Colombian cocaine crime lord Pablo Escobar – is listing 6g of cocaine for £286.

They write: “Buy five and get the sixth one free! Here you have a superior batch of clean cocaine product as seen in the photo.” Claiming it gives a “euphoric genuine high”, they add: “This is for real cocaine consumers only.”

Payment is through online crypto-currencies including Bitcoin, Monero, Etherium and Litecoin. They can be bought through exchange sites using payment services such as PayPal.

The drug sites even post reviews by customers who give feedback on “stealth”, “communication” and “quality” with comments such as “coke is smooth” and “easy on the nose and good high”.

One user told us this market place wiped out the risks of back-alley drug drops. “You don’t have to go to shady meetings and risk getting shanked by a dealer – it’s delivered to your door by Royal Mail.

“I’ve been using the dark web for years. It’s safer and makes it easier to access the drugs I want.” But Nuno Albuquerque, consultant treatment lead for the UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT), warned: “There has been a boom in dark web usage during lockdown. People buy on it because they think it’s safer. But no one knows what happens to the drugs in transit, who handles it.”

UKAT told us there had been a boom in youngsters seeking help after being lured on to the dark web to buy drugs.

Last July alone the group received 103 online chat and call-back requests from children and young adults under 25 struggling with a dark web drug dependency. The youngest was just 13.

The entire previous year UKAT had no enquiries for help at all linked to youngsters addicted through the dark web.

Public Health England data now shows drug deaths are at an all-time high across the country – especially in so-called Generation X, born between the mid-60s and 1980.

Mr Albuquerque added: “We’re extremely worried about the rise in these dark web cries for help. To be able to order drugs in the same way you’d order a pizza online is frightening but extremely appealing to a younger generation who want to remain ‘off the radar’.

“The dark web offers a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak to buy drugs and its appeal to the younger generation is clear. Drugs bought by any means is risky, you will never know exactly what you’re getting. Every time you use them you are gambling your life because the ingredients will never be listed.”

The dark web is just a small part of the £132billion annual trade in drugs in Europe and North America. But the UK is cornering the dark web market according to Dr Monica Barratt, a social scientist involved in conducting the largest survey of drug use around the world.

She said: “If you live in London you can order from the dark net at 3pm as a lot of vendors will deliver it later that night. I think that immediacy changes the appeal.”

Britain is in the grip of a cocaine boom. A study by King’s College London suggests Bristol is the city with the highest rate of consumption per person in Europe — while Londoners get through the largest amount, at 23kg a day.

Inside Britain's secret online cocaine dealing with drugs sent in post Amazon-style

A third of UK users can get cocaine delivered in half an hour — quicker than a takeaway pizza, says the Global Drug Survey.

Meanwhile dark web drug sales have increased 500% during the pandemic, says a report by cyber intelligence firm Sixgill. Cocaine listings alone have spiked by a 1,000% – up from 140 in December 2019 to 1,541 in April 27 last year. The National Crime Agency has a specialist unit for the dark net drug trade.

A spokesman said: “The structure of the dark net supply network is there will be some UK suppliers who ‘only’ supply here and some who will risk international supply with distributors in the UK and across Europe.

“Profits vary depending on the size of the network but can run into the millions for more prolific dealers.

Dark net drug dealer and university dropout Thomas White, 26, is estimated to have made £1.6million selling drugs from his site Silk Road 2.0 before he was caught.

He got five years and four months in 2019 after police raided his luxury flat in Liverpool and also found indecent images of children on his laptop. He admitted drug trafficking, money laundering and making indecent images.

Last April the NCA dismantled a drug network that was shipping ecstasy across the globe. The operation began after parcels of Class A MDMA destined for Europe, Asia and the US were intercepted.

Officers analysed encrypted messages to identify individuals involved in selling the drugs and laundering money using cryptocurrency.

The agency said 90 kilos of MDMA, 134 kilos of amphetamine and more than 6,000 diazepam/alprazolam tablets, with a combined street value of £4.3 million, were recovered during the investigation.

Last October the NCA revealed 24 people were arrested in the UK in one of the biggest international operations targeting a criminal dark web marketplace. Officers seized £220,000 in suspected criminal cash and Bitcoin, and more than 50 kilos of cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, methamphetamine and ketamine after German authorities arrested the marketplace’s alleged operator.

This week the NCA revealed their 12 most-wanted fugitives – including Jack Mayle, 30, of Croydon, South London, wanted on suspicion of supplying class A drug MDMA and other drugs. He allegedly worked with a dark web drugs supplier and is known to carry weapons.

On drugs in the post, a Royal Mail spokesman said: “We work closely with the police for domestic mail and with Border Force for international mail. They help us stop the carriage and delivery of illegal drugs ordered on the dark web.

“We also encourage our postmen and women to report to their managers any suspicious items.”

What is the dark net?

The internet is made up of three different layers: the surface web, the deep web and the dark web.

The surface web shows all the sites we can find on the likes of Google. The deep web are pages search engines can’t access and are accessed via passwords and authorisation, such as work intranets.

The dark web is a network of untraceable websites that search engines can’t find and which need specific software to access them. This is why it’s such a favourite with criminals and terrorists.

App crooks selling guns

By Jack Clover

Machine guns, shotguns, pistols and knives are now available at the click of a mouse.

Criminals are using the controversial Telegram encrypted messaging app to advertise lethal weapons. Users can set up “channels” which protect their own identity but allow them to post messages that reach thousands of people.

One channel called Buy Guns in the United Kingdom was active for more than two months and had 9,000 followers before being shut down. UK Guns and Ammo is offering a Glock 19 pistol for £500, an Uzi machine gun for £650 and an AK47 for £1,000.

The prices are only shown on private messages and sales are made using cryptocurrencies which are hard to trace.

Telegram has been under fire for harbouring far right extremists and even terrorists such as ISIS. Criminal sanctions for tech bosses who fail to crack down on extremists is due to be included in a new Online Safety Bill.

Pair ran £3.7m racket like an online shop

Two dark web dealers were so busy they had a computer program taking orders as they raked in millions.

Jehanzeb Amar and Salahydin Warsame, both 29, ran a social media site called LetsWork, shipping cocaine, ecstasy and LSD to more than 1,000 subscribers. They were caught after police swooped on Warsame’s van close to a post office in Birmingham and found 61 packages of drugs ready to mail to addresses throughout the UK.

Analysis identified £3.7m had been received by LetsWork through the pair’s cryptocurrency accounts. Amar got 13-and-a-half years and Warsame 10-and-a-half at Birmingham Crown Court last April.

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