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Can Drug Trafficking Be An Online Crime?

person typing on computer in a dark room, top view

The Internet has opened up numerous opportunities for education, entertainment, employment, and more. However, it has also created a new crime category: online crime. Most people think of fraud or sex crimes when they think about online crime, but what about drug trafficking? Is it possible to commit drug crimes online?

What is Drug Trafficking?

Drug trafficking involves the illegal cultivation, transport, and sale of a large quantity of an illicit substance. When people think about drug trafficking, many picture large amounts of drugs hidden within a vehicle and the driver taking the stash across borders for distribution.

In fact, drug trafficking doesn’t require the transfer of drugs at all. You are at risk of drug trafficking charges if you’re found with any substantial amount of drugs in your possession, drug paraphernalia, or other evidence to support that you had the intent to distribute drugs.

Online Drug Trafficking

Online drug trafficking has all of the same components as physical drug trafficking. However, it all happens online. Online drug trafficking typically occurs on the ‘dark web.’ This is a side of the Internet that users can access using a specific browser and bypassing other security measures. It’s known for being a place where individuals can commit illegal activities anonymously.

Individuals may commit drug trafficking online and accept cryptocurrency as payment to further protect each user’s privacy and remain undetected.

Some of the most common drugs purchased and sold on the dark web include:

  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • LSD & MDMA

You may be wondering, once the transaction is complete, how are the drugs handed off? While each party can maintain anonymity on the dark web and pay with cryptocurrency, shipping options do not offer that same protection. Therefore, trafficked drugs are typically disguised in seemingly ordinary packages. Not only will they be placed in unsuspecting boxes, but they will likely be hidden within other objects. This is done so that if law enforcement were to open and check the package, they would not immediately see the illicit drugs inside.

Notable Cases

Silk Road is one of the most notorious cases of online drug trafficking. Silk Road was an online marketplace specifically for illegal drug activities. This darknet website was only in operation for a short time before the FBI arrested the founder and sentenced him to life in prison. Still, the market serviced over 100,000 people before its shutdown.

In Fall 2021, another group of individuals was arrested and prosecuted for conspiracy to commit online drug trafficking. Within the official release of the news, the DEA stated an active effort to detect and stop all online drug trade and specifically noted that no one will be able to hide their activities on the dark web forever.

Online Drug Trafficking Penalties

In addition to drug trafficking charges, you could face:

  • Conspiracy charges
  • Fraud charges
  • Drug manufacturing charges

Depending on the charges against you and the general severity of your case, the penalties can quickly become extreme.

If charged with online drug trafficking, you could be looking at five years to life in prison. You could also be required to pay fines of over $1 million.

What To Do If You’re Facing Charges

Whether your trafficking charges stem from a vehicle search or an online crime investigation, you need to take action immediately after becoming notified of an investigation against you. Drug trafficking is one of the most serious criminal charges, and you need to contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. If you’re involved in an online drug trafficking case, the odds are high that the DEA or FBI have been building a case and collecting evidence for months ahead of time. It’s crucial you have a defense attorney by your side to combat this.

Florida Drug Trafficking Defense

Our team at First Coast Criminal Defense has experience handling a wide variety of drug and federal crimes. Reach out today to get started on your defense by calling (904) 474-3115 or clicking here to set up a case consultation.