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What happens to opioid availability when a darknet marketplace closes down?

Mar 12, 2021

The Australian Institute of Criminology has published an article titled “Impact of darknet market seizures on opioid availability”.  Darknet marketplaces operate on an encrypted internet network, and often supply illegal products including substances. This research report describes the shifts in availability of opioids like fentanyl as various marketplaces were either disrupted by law enforcement, or otherwise closed down over a twelve month period. The report found that as some marketplaces closed down, it resulted in a diversification of marketplaces with an overall increase in availability of opioids. From April to July 2019, three major marketplaces either closed or were seized by law enforcement. During this period, listings offering opioids for sale went from 5320 listings in April to 16 930 listings by the end of July. This demonstrates how dynamic these markets are, and the need for a coordinated and long term approach to reduce harm to the community.

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