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The dark net might be changing drug smuggling routes

Military & Defense

AP Photo/Mark LennihanA firearm and 154 pounds of heroin worth at least $50 million are displayed at a Drug Enforcement Administration news conference, Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in New York.

The constant changes in opiate smuggling routes from Afghanistan and the fact that Afghan heroin may be reaching new markets point to a new obstacle for law enforcement: the dark net, according to the World Drug Report.

This place on the internet, which allows buyers to access drugs easily and anonymously is proving to be a new driving force in drug trafficking.

Alongside changes in different drug trafficking routes, such as the one used to to smuggle opiates from Afghanistan through Pakistan into South Asia and through Iran into Europe, the World Drug report also found evidence that criminal groups are diversifying the kinds of drugs they are focusing on. 

The interest in cannabis resin and methamphetamine has been growing and routes normally used for just one type of drug now host a few.

Changes in the kind of drugs being smuggled through specific countries are also changing. African countries, which are traditionally used as transit hubs for heroin and cocaine are now also used for other drugs.


Cocaine, which is almost exclusively cultivated in South America, is mostly smuggled through Africa or the Caribbean before reaching Europe. Eastern Europe is also starting to become a transit area, and although quantities remain small it could show a movement in the cocaine markets. Costa Rica also reported that it is now both a transit and temporary storage country.

Cocaine use continues to be on the decline in Western and Central Europe and North America and the cocoa bush cultivation is at its lowest since the mid 80’s, according to the report.


Increased seizures of heroin, particularly in East Africa, point to Africa’s role for the smuggling of Afghan heroin into Europe has become more and more important.

Recent seizures also suggest that large shipments of Afghan heroin are smuggled across the Indian Ocean and into East and Southern Africa.

In Canada, the quasi totality of heroin comes from Afghanistan. Although the United States’s heroin supplies mostly come from Central and South America, things might start changing as fluctuations in the Australian market between heroin originating from Myanmar and Afghanistan point to the fact that criminal networks are increasingly global.

The report notes that there are also indications of increased trafficking in South and South East Asia and West and East Africa and the “Balkan route” through Iran and Turkey to Europe, the “northern route” through Central Asia to Russia and the “southern route” through Iran or Pakistan to Asia are all established trafficking routes of Afghan opiates.


East and South East Asia and Oceania are emerging as global market for ecstasy while the market declines in America and significant seizures over the past five years show that new trafficking routes are emerging.

The market for methamphetamine is expanding in East and South East Asia and the use of crystal meth is increasing in North America and Europe. West Africa continues to be a transit region for methamphetamine smuggled into East and South East Asia.

Trafficking routes from Africa and America to East and South East Asia have also been observed with transit points in Europe and South Africa. 

Reports of Turkey becoming a transit point for smuggling from Western Asia to Europe have emerged along with reports of methamphetamine trafficking from Europe to America and East and South East Asia.

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