Greetings to all distinguished Members of the Russian Customs Academy and esteemed participants.
While the traditional (offline) drugs market remains a significant threat, all over the world, the internet has emerged as a major drug market. The online sale of drugs using the internet is fast replacing the traditional buying and selling of drugs as it has many advantages. There is no need for physical interaction in different stages of the trafficking process. It also facilitates access to a global audience, to a large availability and diversity of products, to easy payment options; to bulk orders and wholesale prices. In addition, ‘mirror sites’ redirect customers to Dark web marketplaces, where transactions can be done in many languages like English, Russian, German, Spanish, and French. From the buyers' perspective, there are a number of advantages in doing online purchase of drugs: absence of physical violence; anonymity of the marketplaces; high quality and wide diversity of products; vendors and products are being reviewed on everyday basis.
Customs and other Law enforcement authorities also rely on the internet as a primary source of information on every aspect of NPS, from chemical composition and manufacturer locale to distribution methodology and end-user demographics. Identification of vendors in the NPS market is difficult as it is a complex system that stretches across countries worldwide involving manufacturing sites, processing sites and the websites used for trafficking. This makes tracking suppliers and the criminal groups a very difficult and complex task. Further, laws and prosecutorial standards vary across countries, making it impossible to punish drug offenders. These legal complications impact crime prevention and undermine public trust in rule-of-law. The global shadow financial system adds to the complications.
Global trafficking in NPS will be a continuous challenge for Customs administrations throughout the world. New challenges will keep demand new strategies.