The Narcotics Control Bureau Mumbai Zone has arrested a Mumbai resident Makarand P Adivirkar for allegedly facilitating the purchasing of drugs in Bitcoin. Known as ‘Crypto King’ by some, Adivirkar used to convert one’s cash in Bitcoin by taking some commissions and then purchasing LSDs (a hallucinogenic drug) and other drugs from the dark web, said NCB Mumbai officials.
“In November 2020, a team of NCB Mumbai had seized 20 LSD blots from Kharodi Village in Malad. The seized psychotropic substance was purchased from Europe by using Bitcoin by a drug peddler from Mumbai,” Sameer Wankhede, the zonal director of the Mumbai Unit of NCB said.
Growing Dark Web Transactions
Cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoins are popularly used on the dark web for illegal purchases. While numerous dark web marketplaces such as Silk Road and DarkMarket have been shut down, a slew of others like Hydra, a Russian dark web marketplace, are fully functional and not only provide illegal drugs but also sell stolen credit card data, fake currencies, cyberattack services and so on.
According to a recent report by Chainalysis and Flashpoint, Hydra market activity has skyrocketed since its inception in 2015, with annual transaction volumes growing from a total of $9.40 Mn in 2016 to north of $1.37 Bn by the end of 2020. “Observed through blockchain analysis, we see a staggering 624% year-over-year growth rate for Hydra in its three most recent years 2018 to 2020,” it said.
Chainalysis in another report observed, “If we exclude Hydra, we see that darknet market revenue stayed roughly flat from 2019 to 2020. Hydra is unique in that it only serves Russian-speaking countries, and is by far the largest darknet market in the world, accounting for over 75% of darknet market revenue worldwide in 2020.”
In India, the dark web has been infamous for selling stolen credit and debit card data, critical data, and LSDs in cryptocurrencies. Earlier this year, an independent cybersecurity researcher Rajshekhar Rajaharia claimed that nearly 10 Cr credit and debit cardholders in the country are being sold for an undisclosed amount on the Dark Web. Leaked from a compromised server of Bengaluru-based digital payments gateway Juspay, hackers were selling data in Bitcoin.