The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) convened a five-day training event that focused on the fight against new psychoactive substances (NPS) traded across darknet spaces.
The event, concluded on February 21, 2020 in Kazakhstan, aimed to cultivate collaborations among law enforcement agencies with an intention to combat the growth of NPS sale via dark web. It is reported that an impressive 20 countries were represented in the training course, drawing law enforcement agents from various parts of the world.
The event groomed participants on the various methodologies used in the effective identification of online platforms with malicious content. This understanding was reflected on various subjects, including the techniques of encryption and anonymity, darknet operation and the role of cryptocurrencies in propagating international criminal activity.
Apart from OSCE’s sponsorship, the training course was also the outcome of a joint effort between the organization’s Strategic Police Matters Unit (SPMU) and the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center (CARICC), with sponsorship of the Nizhniy Novgorod Academy of Russia’s Interior Ministry.
A statement by the Director of CARICC Rustam Aziz Miralizoda elucidated the scope of the training course whose relevance was specific to Central Asia. This aspect stems from the fact that an upsurge in NPS has been witnessed within various echelons of the region’s illegal drugs market. The intersection of darknet platforms and virtual currencies has exposed the dire need for law enforcement agencies to curb the menace through regional cooperation and a sense of international urgency.
Further, the Police Affairs Officer on Combating Drugs at the SPMU reiterated on Miralizoda’s statement by highlighting the threats that NPS poses to OSCE members. Indeed, the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has been a significant determinant of the scale and impact of regional criminal activities, specifically in reflection to drug-related crimes. The officer went on to highlight the willingness on partnership by OSCE experts in enabling Central Asian authorities to combat the issue through an application of international standards and best practices.
Literature: Cryptocurrencies and Dark Web Crime
International crime has taken a digital perspective that has traversed key echelons of global law enforcement. Criminals have gradually shifted from their former run-of-the-mill armed robber status to syndicates of tech-savvy thugs with a gut to aggression and sophisticated computer knowledge to boot.
In essence, the crime families of today do not employ traditional money crimes of the olden times, but have turned into a class of white-collar criminals who operate in rather safe environments that guarantee their circumvention of the law.
It is noteworthy to realize that even the existing ecosystem of digital-backed crime began with a single step. Right now, and in the future, it appears that fraud schemes have grown out of the cryptocurrency boom and the increasing popularity of darknet spaces. The love for crypto coins can be inferred by noticing the harshness of modern judicial systems in combating international crime.
In addition, the risk of losing money and amassed materials to asset forfeiture has driven criminals to walk the cryptocurrency path. Thus, it is proper to state that cryptocurrencies have become an efficient avenue for hiding “dirty monies”, which advances the difficulty of authorities in investigating crime-sourced finances.
A study of cryptocurrencies such Monero and Zcash adds weight to this argument because, well, most of these virtual coins were created by seasoned money launderers who aimed to thwart cybercriminal law enforcement. In fact, the Monero currency describes itself as a private, secure, and untraceable crypto coin. Ultimately, simply put, cryptocurrencies and dark web platforms are connected at the hip.
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