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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tollywood hit with Major Dark Web Fueled Drug Scandal

Tollywood, the Telugu version of Hollywood, is wildly popular in India, especially in the Southern states. It is the second largest section of Indian movies, the first being Bollywood, the Hindi version of Hollywood. Tollywood, like any other major film industry, has been accused of various crimes, such as racism, sex scandals, and drug use, but no accusation or investigation has been as pointed and large as this one. This 460 million dollar industry is now facing public backlash and major government scrutiny.

Police officers and officials at the Telangana Enforcement Department have busted what seems to be the largest drug racket in Hyderabad. This gang was supplying large amounts of LSD and MDMA to wealthy students, actors, and business men. The price of LSD and MDMA are very high for Indian standards, costing around 27 US dollar per tab, while the average income in India is only around 1,500 US dollars. The price is very high because the average purity and chemical concentrations in drugs such as cocaine, MDMA, and other substances have been steadily increasing over the past decades. A daily habit of LSD can be very expensive, and thus only affordable by the wealthy inhabitants. The leader of this drug ring, nicknamed Calvin, was arrested by police and interrogated until he began providing precious information regarding the workings of his network, including some high profile names in the entertainment industry.

He stated that most of his drugs were bought online via the Deep Web, as vendors from the European countries were manufacturing and selling high-quality drugs for a much cheaper price than they would fetch in India. He would deliver the drugs to the actor’s chauffeur, who would be told that they were delivering “medicine”. This was to keep the driver in the dark and prevent the possibility of the driver stealing the product or leaking information to the police. The most startling fact was that one of Tollywood’s largest event managers, a man who goes by the name Piyoosh, was arrested and convicted of selling these drugs to school children and college students in the surrounding areas.

Calvin states that actors and key players in the entertainment industry are the best people to sell to. The lifestyles of actors include numerous tours, many hours of constant acting, and many sleepless nights. The only way to distract themselves is to alter their state of mind, allowing for a booming drug trade in Tollywood. These personalities are also highly revered and respected, and thus are mainly immune to police prosecution. Wealthy students are also good customers, as many have ample amounts of money to spend, are not invested in school, and are looking to have a good time with friends on the weekend.

Recently, the Indian police forces have been cracking down on the drug trade, closing hookah bars and other smoking outlets. Many lower income persons and store owners have been affected, but the upper-class has been mostly exempt from this crackdown. According to sources, the wealthy children and their parents come in closed cars, bribe police, and leave with large quantities of drugs. The police don’t mind and the drug dealers in the area are very comfortable with the business. Needless to say, the crackdown by the Telangana Enforcement Department was out of the ordinary and came as a shock to most people.

More college students are entering the drug trade, as the rise of Darknet Markets have made buying drugs in bulk a lot easier. Good connections with local police officers can buy you a legal pass and allow you to operate without a hitch.

This is just the beginning of the government crack down, and more raids will come. How many big actors will be tied in the drug trade, we can only guess. Although many actors are clean and have no involvement, many actors are key players in the drug trade and regularly buy drugs for themselves and their families. More stories will develop, so please stay tuned for further updates.

Stuttgart Public Prosecutor Blames Darknet for Designer Drug Use

In Stuttgart, Germany, the number of drug charges involving novel psychoactive substances (NPS) is on the rise. And, according to drug clinics in the area, the so called “legal highs” are also contributing to a growing number of fatal overdoses.

The senior physician at a local drug addiction clinic spoke of a 23-year-old who had almost died while on unknown chemicals. Three Police officers kept him from jumping off a ledge several stories high. “He explained to me,” Benedict Bloching, the clinic’s senior physician said, “that he had never had such bad experiences with illegal drugs before. Such cases are a commonplace at the clinic, Bloching explained. However, “such drug cases are often not recognized at all.”

Drug Tests

Bloching explained that the needingly rushed working of emergency services, equipped with cheap drug tests, resulted in a lapse of knowledge as to what the drug’s identity. Expensive “lab tests” are necessary to identify the drugs, and even that is often a waste. “Every month new, slightly modified chemical structures are added,” he said, adding that they often resemble (traditional) amphetamines and marijuana in certain effects and can cause matching false positives.

Ineffective Laws

As of November 2016, citizens lived under the New Psychoactive Substances Act, a law created to kill the production of designer drugs. According to Philipp Molsberger, a public prosecutor in Stuttgart, the law “obviously” changed nothing for the end user. He added that “the basic idea was good.”

The Consumer and the Darknet

At this point, the darknet may seem unrelated to Stuttgart’s issue with Novel Psychoactive Substances. But, as with many “new drugs,” officials blamed darknet drug marketplaces for the NPS influx. First, the consumer makes a self-preservation step, the public prosecutor said:”a consumer wants the intoxication, but not the crime that comes with it.” He explained that since those customers will always buy, police needed to pursue only dealers.

One person said that NPS trade is only on the darknet—an incorrect statement, but an easy assumption make. Molsberger confirmed, “the Darknet is the problem with the NPS.”As of right now, “medical professionals try to cope with the phenomenon better.” And one way this had already occurred was at an event in late 2016. Medical professionals hosted it and speakers talked about these Novel Psychoactive Substances. Law enforcement made an appearance and an even tighter collaboration blossomed during the first half of 2017.

Hanjo Leukam, of the Ministry of the Interior in Baden-Württember (Landespolizeipräsidium Unit 32) spoke alongside addiction counselors and other medical professionals.

Austrian Police to Decrypt WhatsApp Messages “In the Future”

At a Ministry of Justice meeting in Austria, Mag. Konrad Kogler, Director General for Public Security, spoke of law enforcement’s nearing ability to intercept and decrypt WhatsApp messages. He explained the difficulties even caused police, especially in cases of terrorism and drug trafficking.

“The first approach between drug addicts, drug traffickers or IS recruiters mostly [starts with] the telephone,” the Director General for Public Security said at the July 31 meeting. Kogler believed that a mass-ban on encryption would solve many of the current and upcoming criminal issues in Austria. Terrorism is a major threat. “We do not know anything about it, just that something is going on,” he said, referring to a constant flow of cases where a crime had clearly occurred but police lacked the manpower to continue with the investigation.

On the BMI website, an ambitious press representative titled the release as follows: “The police will be able to decrypt WhatsApp messages in the future.” However, Austrian chancellor Christian Kern, while agreeing that the government needed new ways to fight terrorism and crime in general, the discussion needed to include “the basic freedom of citizens.”

As of early July in the Netherlands, law enforcement can now hack suspects’ contacts, and naturally the suspect as well. Law enforcement in Germany, in Spain, and in the UK have wide open hacking powers. Chancellor Christian Kern used those as examples, even though Spain passed their hacking laws in 2015.

While the plans have been scrapped, Austrian authorities came close to implementing a “Federal Trojan.” Of course, this project stalled once authorities had discovered that they lacked the skills required to create such a trojan. During 2016, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka pushed a bill that he, along with many others in government, believed would end terrorist communication. “If terrorists use Messenger, we must be able to listen to this communication,” Sobotka explained at a debate.

Germany’s trojan, one of a similar nature—yet created “in house” by competent German technicians within the government. An Austrian official spoke of the complexity of the trojan. And despite Germany’s ability to create such a trojan, the Austrian government lacked the know-how while receiving the equivalent of legal beating from lawyers and privacy advocate groups.

The police in Austria may soon be able to read encrypted messages from apps like WhatsApp, the ability may be further in the future than the Director General enthusiastically announced.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Many Popular and Cheap Cell Phones Found to Have Serious Privacy Issues

In July hackers from around the world flocked to Las Vegas, Nevada for a week of hacker conferences which include Black Hat, DEFCON, and BSides Las Vegas. Every year vulnerabilities are exposed at these conferences. This year at Black Hat, it was revealed in a talk given at the conference that some of the most popular and affordable smartphones were spying on users and their devices. The BLU R1 HD, an ad supported smartphone that is offered exclusively through Amazon Prime, was discovered to be transmitting information about the user and their phone to servers located in China. The BLU R1 HD currently sells for $99 on Amazon, however in the past the device has been offered at prices as low as $50. It is the top selling smartphone available on Amazon. Another similarly priced smartphone that was found to be compromised was the BLU Life One X2. Amazon was not the only retailer selling compromised devices, as other major American retailers such as BestBuy were also selling smart phones that also transmitted user data to third party Chinese servers, such as the BLU Grand M which is priced between $60-75.

Researchers from Kryptowire delivered their talk at Black Hat USA 2017 on Wednesday July 26th entitled “All Your SMS & Contacts Belong to Adups & Others”. Kryptowire is a contractor for the United States’ Department of Homeland Security, although their research on the Adups backdoor was unrelated to their work for the Department of Homeland Security. The Chinese company responsible for the backdoor is Shanghai Adups Technology. In late 2016 it was discovered that smartphones made by BLU were contacting the Chinese servers. At the time an attorney based in California who was representing Adups claimed that the company had simply “made a mistake.” The CEO of BLU also claimed that the problem had been resolved and that none of their devices were communicating with the Chinese servers anymore.

However, despite the claims from Adups and BLU, the researchers at Kryptowire discovered that Adups’ software was still transmitting data to third party Chinese servers without the knowledge of the user, only now the company was doing more to obscure what it was doing. Kryptowire researchers said that they had witnessed three different smart phones which were still communicating with a command and control server in China that is operated by Adups. Ryan Johnson of Kryptowire told CNET that Adups’ backdoors were replaced “with nicer versions,” and stated that he had “captured the network traffic of them using the command and control channel when they did it.” The Adups backdoor allowed the company to run commands, install and delete apps, take screenshots, record calls and texts, and even wipe the device all without permission from the user. It would also send device identifiers such as the MAC address, IMSI, IMEI, and the serial number. It could track a user’s location through information obtained by local cell phone towers.

During their research, Kryptowire examined the firmware of over twenty cheap smartphones. All of the devices they examined were vulnerable and contained a MediaTek chipset. The MediaTek chipset ships with an application called MTKLogger. These devices were vulnerable to having browser history and GPS location spied on. Like Adups, MediaTek claimed late last year that they had resolved this issue, however, Kryptowire discovered that the BLU Advance 5.0 was being sold with MTKLogger still installed. BLU Advance 5.0 also happens to be the third most popular smartphone available on Amazon. It does not allow for users to update the firmware.

Another cheap Chinese phone, the Cubot X16S, was also determined to have the same privacy issues. Two other major Chinese smartphone manufacturers, Huawei and ZTE, have also been accused of selling Americans phones that are compromised with backdoors. Adups also happens to provide software to Huawei and ZTE. In recent years, the United States House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence investigated the two companies over claims of backdoors being installed on the devices they were selling. Kryptowire researchers claimed they did not find any of Adups backdoors on smartphones which sell for over 300 dollars, as Adups mainly supplies software to companies which produce more affordable smartphones. The researchers at Kryptowire are not sure what is being done with the data that is sent to the servers Adups controls.

Russia Goes After Tor, VPNs, and Proxies in Latest Bill

In Russia, a bill further restricting internet freedom and privacy has come close to becoming law. The bill finally takes steps to prevent the public from using Tor, VPNs, and web proxies. All that remains before the bill becomes a law is the signature of President Vladimir Putin. Both the Russian Parliament and the Russian Federation Council approved the bill in late July.

Russia is well known for the alleged suppression of free speech through state-sponsored censorship all the way down to physical abuse of reporters and journalists. Although the Russian constitution enables the freedom of speech and freedom of press, this has rarely been reflected in reports from journalist advocacy groups and freedom of speech organizations—the majority of which operate outside of Russia. For example, in 2013, Russia ranked 148 out of 179 countries in the Press 

Yet another example of the possible extremes taken by Russian state or federal institution was recorded by the Committee to Protect Journalists. According to a 2006 report, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Russia the third most dangerous country for a journalist to visit.

Now, Russia will be the first country to truly implement anti-circumvention laws against Tor, VPN services, and proxies. (The United Arab Emirates blocked the use of “fraudulent IP addresses” in 2016, but not specific clients or services). Assuming Russia’s law comes into play before February 1, 2018, Russia will beat China in the movement to ban Tor, proxies, and VPNs. in fact, in Russia, Director of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, asked the Russian Parliament to “speed up the adoption of several laws,” one of which was the VPN law introduced on June 8.

The impending amendments to the law on information technology and information protection was allegedly designed to “improve the effectiveness of restricting access to information resources, access to which is restricted in Russia legally.” However, as early as 2016, Russia began interrupting VPN and proxy services through any legal framework possible. Kproxy, a proxy that once landed on the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media’s internet “blacklist.” Not, at the time, for allowing anonymous access to the internet, but for allowing access to restricted or illegal sites in Russia. Kproxy then implemented a “blacklist” that mirrored the Russian government’s and received legal permission to operate again.

This will technically be the same way that proxy services, VPNs, and the Tor Browser will be allowed to survive under the new law. Any service or site will be blocked if they fail to implement the Russian government’s internet blacklist. The Tor Project is unlikely to block some of the sites on the “forbidden” list. Although they did not act in official capacity directed Towards Turkey, the Tor Bridges guide demonstrates the Project’s willingness to aid in avoiding state censorship. (This is in reference to the routine Tor outages in Turkey for political reasons).

While the blacklist ends access to “extremist “ sites and child abuse media, it also blocks other, unrelated sites, often under highly controversial pretences. For instance, in 2013, the the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (aka Roskomnadzor) blocked Wikipedia on account of a Wikipedia article titled “Smoking Cannabis.” (After a complete rewrite of the violating page, Wikipedia was taken off the registry of banned sites).

The DeepDotWeb list of ranked VPNs may prove more useful than usual in the coming days, “Best VPN Service Comparison Chart.”

Australian Law Enforcement Cracks Down Dark Web-Based Illicit Animal Trades

Australian law enforcement agencies and authorities have started to crackdown dark web marketplaces selling and distributing exotic animals throughout the country.

Since early 2017, Australian airport security officials and investigators from the Department of Environment have been actively investigating into animal trafficking and smuggling. Dark web-based marketplaces and animal traffickers have started to traffic exotic animals such as rare species of snakes and lizards by placing them inside toy teddy bears and books.

Earlier this week for instance, the Australia Post staff in Western Australia discovered rare blue tongue lizards taped from head tail and sewn into a teddy bear, local sources including The Age reported. As the teddy bear wrapped and ready to be delivered across the country crossed the x-ray detection screen at the Australia Post.

On June 3, DeepDotWeb previously reported that award-winning business journalist Anthony Hilton described the dark web as a well-structured global criminal network. In the industries of drug, arms and animal trafficking within the dark web network, there exists rigid and well-structured criminal organizations that handle different operations professionally.

“It divides into software specialists, distributors of that software, hackers, network specialists and financial experts capable of handling and laundering the ill-gotten gains. It has middlemen and subcontractors who will offer hacking services to organisations that lack the required skills themselves,” Hilton explained.

The dark-web based animal trafficking operations that have become a major problem for Australian authorities and its Department of Environment has also been operating as a sophisticated criminal network, with certain departments of the organization handling the acquisition and distribution of animals, financing of suppliers and distributors.

According to Samantha Moore, the senior investigator at the Department of Environment, methods utilized by dark web-based animal traffickers have become increasingly sophisticated, making it that much more difficult for delivery service providers, airport security and post offices.

One issue that the Department of Environment is trying to find a solution to is the amount of animals dying due to fluctuation in temperatures and alteration in environment as time pass. When exotic and rare species such as the blue tongue lizard and turtles are sewed on to dolls and placed into emptied out books, the change in temperatures while traveling via ships and planes lead to the deaths of those animals.

“We’ve got animals that are sent in the post and if for some reason those parcels aren’t collected. the animals die. And often that’s not discovered until authorities, or the post [workers] actually smell the stench of rotting animals in the parcel,” said Moore.

Most importantly, because the illicit dark web-based animal trafficking industry within Australia has dramatically grown over the past few years, suppliers have learned methods to discover and acquire new species of exotic animals. Moore explained that newly found species quickly become the hottest properties within the industry.

For dark web criminals and animal traffickers, Moore noted that the business is highly profitable. Not only is the demand increasing for rare species, the profit margins of their operations are extremely high. According to Moore, rare species such as the shingleback lizard can be purchased for $300 in Australia but can be shipped and sold to other countries for over $10,000.

At the moment, the government is investigating into methods that can circumvent dark web marketplaces and encrypted messaging to put an end to the illicit animal trafficking industry within Australia that is rapidly expanding internationally.


Customs Intercepts California Man’s Packages of Live King Cobras

On July 25, the Central District of California issued a press release that detailed the arrest of Rodrigo Franco, a 34-year-old California man. According to the criminal complaint, Franco imported king cobras and albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles. After the California man ordered the snakes from an online wildlife dealer, Customs and Border Protection intercepted the mail under the suspicion that the packages contained drugs.

On March 2, a Customs and Border Protection officer flagged the package as Franco’s address connected to drug shipments, of some sort. The federal agents avoided these details. However, upon opening the package, the agent found potato chips cans. He then noticed movement inside a can. CBP immediately called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for assistance. To some surprise, the FWS agents recognized the address as well—only not for drugs.

Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Stephanie Johnson instructed her agents and the CBP agents not to open the packages. They, however, ended up doing just that:

“I directed the Wildlife Inspectors and the CBP Agricultural Specialists to not open the small potato chip canisters until we could take them to a more controlled and safe environment. However, while I was interviewing Agricultural Specialist Pimentel (described above), WI Kawabata opened one of the canisters and verified there was a snake inside (at the time, the snake was passive and did not attempt to strike at WI Kawabata).”

FWS agents, according to court documents, recognized the address too, thanks to interactions with the same online animal supplier from Hong Kong. Agents seized the snakes. At the same date, Franco shipped six protected turtles to an address in Hong Kong, but USFWS agents seized those package(s) as well. USPIS, with the snakes removed from the package, performed a controlled delivery with only the soft-shelled turtles. Immediately following the delivery, the USFWS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted a search warrant obtained for the possession of turtles.

According to the court documents, agents found another set of illegal animals when executing the search warrant. The report explained the search team had found—in the children’s room—the aforementioned box of turtles, a Morelet’s crocodile, tanks containing alligator snapping turtles, a common snapping turtle, and five diamond back terrapins.

During the raid, Franco returned to his house where he found a host of CBP agents and US fish police. They sat him down for questioning. Unfortunately for Franco, he spoke to the police, and voluntarily explained that he had previously ordered another 20 snakes from the same supplier. But the snakes had died, he said. In a phone conversation with a contact, Franco mentioned feeding the snakes, but again, reassured agents that that had died mid-flight. (Or really any time while stuck in a Pringles can for days at a time).

For the importation of 20 or more king cobras, possession of the illegally owned snapping turtles and crocodile, Franco faces one count of illegally importing merchandise into the United States. The smuggling charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Federal Judge Orders FBI Dark Web Sting to be Kept Secret

Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett ordered an FBI dark web sting to be kept confidential despite the evidence necessary to uncover the details of the investigation for a fair and transparent case.

Earlier this month, Tyrell Fears, a graduate of Dutch Fork High School, along with two other men were arrested and charged for conspiracy to murder. Officials and investigators from the FBI suspected Fears of attempting to murder Shauna Clark, the former wife of Michael Young, who is currently serving a 50-year sentence in the SC Department of Corrections.

Fears is a nephew of Young, whom according to sources including The State has always regarded Young as a father figure. According to the FBI, Fears and Vance Voulious served as accomplices to Young and played a key role in plotting out the supposed murder plan to assassinate Clark.

The official report of the FBI and court documents gathered by The Slate revealed that FBI investigators seized a mail bomb that was received, armed, labeled and sent by Fears. Sources also noted that the FBI conducted a secret and confidential dark web sting in order to foil the state prison mail bomb murder plot.

At the official hearing, defense attorney Jim Griffin for Fears requested the FBI to show Judge Gossett details of the investigation in order to maintain a transparent and just hearing. At the hearing, Giffen also provided the court with a copy of The State newspaper entitled “‘Dark Web’ sting snares S.C. inmate in mail-bomb murder plot.”

However, Judge Gossett denied the request of Griffin and ordered the dark web string to be kept confidential. More to that, Judge Gossett denied bond for Fears, stating that setting Fears lose in an ongoing investigation would be dangerous for Clark, who was supposedly targeted in a shooting that left Clark’s father killed by Young.

At the testimony of Fears, it was disclosed that Young used a contraband cellphone from prison to access the dark web and order a mail bomb assassination. Although details of Young’s prison gang involvement was not disclosed, it was revealed that Young used both contacts within the prison and gangs outside the corrections facility to run an illegal drug trafficking business in South Carolina.

One of the key testimonies that emerged from the hearing was that the mail bomb allegedly used to murder Clark was nowhere powerful enough to hurt or kill anyone. The mail bomb had traces of RDX, a military explosive, but the amount was not sufficient.

The actual details of the case are important for the court and the judge to decide the fate of Fears and his fellow accomplice. However, the failure to disclose details of the case and the FBI’s dark web sting sets a negative precedent for FBI investigations moving forward, mostly due to its previous crackdown of child pornography dark web marketplace in December of 2016.

Seven months ago, FBI took down a notorious child pornography dark web marketplace Playpen and arrested more than 900 users, operators and moderators. But, due to illegal warrant and inappropriate investigation methods, the majority of child pornography buyers were set free.

It is important for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to take necessary steps and precautions in completing investigations into serious criminal activities properly, offering fair, just and transparent hearings for the criminals. That way, criminals that are guilty of serious criminal activities will be forced to serve their time and the law enforcement will not have to deal with controversy surrounding illegal warrants and investigation methods.

The Deep Web, Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and Psychonauts

Generally speaking, the internet and social media are growing in popularity at considerably rapid rates and presently play a pivotal role in the sale, distribution and marketing of “quasi” legal drugs. The quasi-anarchic nature of online marketplaces is gradually imposing a myriad of changes in illegal drug scenarios, changing the drug market to a virtual rather than a street perspective, with buyers capable of shopping with considerable levels of anonymity 24/7 via many online marketplaces. Actually, the emergence of Web 2.0 has boosted the availability of various communicative and interactive tools including blogs, fora, SNS etc., which has made it simple and easy to share and distribute pharmaceuticals and drug related info, including those focusing on illegal drugs.

Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Youtube, Tumblr etc., are facilitating the exchange of messages via computers, laptops, smartphones or tablets among members of various interrelated groups and thus, offer novel opportunities for individuals all over the world to share information, opinions, experiences and links related to substance abuse. Many researchers have proven that social networks are being extensively employed by drug users in order to discuss and obtain drugs. This is especially more relevant for newly created drugs and it seems to be influenced by convincing and attractive marketing approaches.

The growth and capillary diffusion of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) online marketplaces and the availability of illicit and recreational psychoactive drugs have been more or less fueled by the advent of virtual currencies and anonymous transaction infrastructures. Furthermore, the high security levels of protected identities; the wide variety, high quality and novelty of available drugs, in addition to the ability to select vendors and communicate with them, have further catalyzed and deployed these online marketplaces and their attractiveness.

The great proportion of online drug marketplaces, especially those selling illegal drugs, are hosted on the deep web. Accordingly, the deep web has recently been examined by researchers in the field of drug addiction for its relevance regarding the marketing and distribution of illegal drugs, and more recently, for its pivotal role in the supply chain of NPS. Today, the world wide web has been transformed into an “anarchic free-market world” across which legislation involving drugs is being outpaced by technology and chemistry. A recently published paper aimed at presenting an overview to psychiatrists and addiction professionals on present knowledge about illegal drug activities taking place on the deep web. The terms psychonauts is currently being used to describe online bloggers, social media users, fora etc., who share knowledge regarding NPS, illegal drugs and how to obtain them via the deep web.

A non-participant netnographic qualitative study that involved a list of illegal drugs and pro-drug websites (fora, blogs and drug marketplaces), which are hosted on the surface web, was conducted. Netnography represents a novel methodology of qualitative research that deploys an ethnographic approach in order to study cultures and various online communities. An internet search was performed via Google and Duckduckgo using the following keywords; legal highs, drugs, NPS and novel psychoactive substances combined with the keyword “deep web”. The researchers analyzed the first 10 pages of the obtained search results and then selected only relevant information and data with emphasis on NPS. Approximately 8,640 threads were examined. 800 fora threads which were posted by 1,303 users were considered relevant and analyzed via the empirical phenomenological psychological (EPP) method. While following the EPP protocol, the collected data was presented in a Word document for further analysis using EPP’s five step method.

The experiences and knowledge of blog users and pro-drug fora, or psychonauts, when it comes to the deep web and its role in the marketing and distribution of NPSs and pro-drugs are often published on websites on the surface web. This study was based on the fact that bloggers and fora who publish info about the deep web and online marketplaces have great experiences in using all darknet tools and how to obtain drugs from deep web marketplaces.

Even though the study found out some online marketplaces on the surface web, the deep web represents the major part of the online drug market, as it enables vendor and buyers to wind up their deals with considerable levels of anonymity. Deep web marketplaces function in an “e-Bay style” e-commerce way. Communications between vendors and buyers take place via encrypted messaging systems. Following the shutdown of Silk Road in 2014, many other deep web marketplaces emerged including Alphabay, Dream market. Agora and others. Services such as “Hidden Wiki” and “All You’re Wiki” often contain info about various darknet drug mar


Dark Web LSD Distributor Arrested, Operated in the Netherlands, Britain and Germany

A Piyush, India-based event manager and engineer, was arrested by officials from the Special Task Force of the Prohibition and Excise department (STFPE) and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) for utilizing a dark web marketplace to purchase and distribute drugs including LSD from and to India, the Netherlands, Britain and Germany.

In an interview with local Indian publications, Excise Deputy Commissioner C. Vivekananda Reddy stated that Piyush actively engaged in the distribution of LSD after he lost his job as an engineer amidst the country’s recent financial crisis.

In November of 2016, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi officially demonetized 500 and 1,000 banknotes as a part of a larger initiative to decrease criminal activities in the country. However, the demonetization of the two banknotes led to a nationwide financial turmoil, with 90 percent of the country’s ATMs not being able to provide cash for Indian residents to cover day-to-day expenses.

Vivekananda noted that Piyush became addicted to LSD since he was a university student and ordered the drug through dark web marketplaces that operated in the Netherlands, Britain and Germany. As Piyush began to gain access to large amounts of illicit drugs and LSD, he started to distribute LSD throughout India as a supplier.

“Later he got addicted to LSD, which he used to procure it from the Netherlands, Britain and Germany through the internet. Later, he turned into a drug peddler. Piyush lost his job during demonetisation. He studied the mental state of those who consume narcotics and started procuring alternative drugs like Viagra and anti-depression drugs. By mixing such drugs and tablets, he prepares a blotting paper that is as effective as LSD,” Vivekananda said in an interview.

At first, Piyush acquired large amounts of LSD blots through marketplaces in Europe. Instead of utilizing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero–an anonymous cryptocurrency used by the now-defunct dark web marketplace Alphabay–Piyush utilized his bank account the India-based ICICI bank to cover expenses for the drugs and delivery.

Piyush then experimented with the LSD blots delivered from Europe, selling them to local suppliers in India. He also tried to distribute LSD crystals across the country, ordering batches of LSD crystals from a dark web marketplace in the Netherlands, this time with bitcoin.

In a raid, officials seized 80 blots of LSD, 2,746 strips of concocted chemicals, 20 grams of marijuana and 40 grams of undisclosed powder.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Enforcement Wing of Prohibition and Excise (P&E) department was particularly focused on taking down the operation of Piyush because he was targeting young students from schools and colleges in Hyderabad. In a previous report, the SIT of P&E revealed that students as young as 13 years old were purchasing drugs from the dark web.

Since the report of the SIT was published, local authorities have begun to take necessary steps to decrease drug usage amongst young students in India. Over 50 schools and colleges were issued notices and parents were required to prevent students from buying drugs.

Local law enforcement agencies and authorities also tightened their investigations into drug trafficking and distribution after some officials including Satyendra Kumar Singh, an investigator with the Ahmedabad division of India’s Narcotics Control Bureau, were caught stealing drugs and Bitcoin from dark web drug investigations.

Russian Police Raid Two Dealers and an Online Drug Network

Several days ago, we published a piece on darknet—and clearnet—drug trafficking in Russia. That week, Russian law enforcement had busted suppliers, vendors, and drug resellers. Not even a full week had passed before Russian police started catching more drug criminals with connections to the internet.

In the Udmurt Republic, Russian law enforcement intercepted a 22-year-old drug dealer near a house where he had conducted business at some point in the past. Officers searched his person and found 125 grams of TMCP-2201. TCMP-2201 seems to only exist as an XLR-11 degradant or thermal isomer. Very odd chemical to see on the streets.

Upon a search of the man’s residence, officers found 120 grams of a-PVP. This cathinone is an every-day find for police in Russia. During questioning of the 22-year-old suspect, police lessened that he had ordered the drugs online for resale on the streets. Unlike many RAMP dealers who send so-called “employees” to make deliveries, this man delivered his own drugs.

The suspect is currently in custody until his upcoming hearing. Officers said that he could receive up to 20 years in prison.

Drug Runner caught with 25 Kilograms of Mephedrone

Officers of the Office of Transportation of the Russian Interior Ministry arrested an unidentified resident of Samara for drug trafficking. Officers inspected the baggage of a passenger train headed into the Khabarovsk Territory. Inside one of the searched bags, the officers found 25 kilograms of “synthetic” drugs.

The official representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, Irina Wolf, explained that “during the inspection of baggage the passenger train, in [the suspect’s] road suitcase were vacuum bags with a crystalline substance with a total weight of 25 kilograms.” According to “expert opinion,” she added, “the seized drugs are derived from N-methylephedrine.”

She also explained that during questioning, the suspect told investigators that he had delivered bookmarks in various areas. The cost of his work was 100 – 700 rubles per “batch” of drugs. He found the “work” on the internet at some point in the past and decided to pursue it as a source of income, according to his statement to police investigators.

Perhaps the largest drug bust took place all throughout Russia during raids on more than 50 members of a drug trafficking group. One of the leaders created an online drug market in 2014. As his drug site grew, so did the network of high-ranking group members. The “organizers” created their own online stores and sold drugs of their own, furthering the reach of this criminal network. Group members communicated with each other through Telegram messenger, according to the police.

The network of “online stores” offered drug trafficking in the Chelyabinsk and Orenburg regions, Perm Krai, Republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Udmurtia. The high ranking “organizers” made more than 150 million rubles from the online stores. The DGCPI of the Russian Interior Ministry and GU MVD in the Chelyabinsk region arrested “more than 50 people” throughout different regions in Russia. “When conducting searches, [officers] seized more than 10 kilograms of synthetic drugs, 2 million rubles, 9 cars of different brands, as well as real estate,” – said Irina Wolf, the official Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson.

Authorities have 37 suspects in custody for preventative measures and another 14 members are under conditional house arrest.


BKA Arrests 67 Suspects in a Child Porn Bust

In early July, the German Federal Criminal Police Office busted the owner of a forum promoting and hosting images and videos of “bizarre” child abuse. Between December 2016 and July 2017, the site had amassed more than 87,000 members. Not even 20 days later, the BKA struck again. By July 20, German police had identified roughly 75 suspected members of a child “pornography” ring.

While arresting users of the Elysium child exploitation forums, German police were simultaneously arresting child abusers linked to an app that offered “secure private, and Beautiful Online Group Chat.” The app itself is both completely legal and without ill-intent. The app—or service, really—allows users to join chat rooms and share media with contacts and group members. And the company collaborated with the BKA to a degree that surprised German authorities. Police officers said the suspects were identified thanks to “very good cooperation” with the U.S.-based operators of the service or app, Chatstep.

Between July 5 and July 20, the BKA arrested 67 people, all suspected of uploading, downloading, or viewing videos depicting child exploitation. The suspects ranged from age 18 to age 80. Police identified eight more suspects on July 21, but carried out no arrests.

The press release highlighted the locations of the offenders too; Baden-Württemberg; Bavaria; Bremen; Hamburg; Hesse; Mecklenburg-Vorpommern; Lower Saxony; North Rhine-Westphalia; Rhineland-Palatinate; Saarland; Saxony; Saxony-Anhalt; Schleswig-Holstein.

Chatstep may be in the middle of an internal operation to remove explicit content from the service; in the United States, Chatstep linked arrests are happening back-to-back. The method police used to catch suspects was simple: Chatstep notified the authorities. Every single time. In a case against a Wareham man, “the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was advised of two incidents of child pornography on” The report claimed that “ had submitted two cyber tips to NCMEC, which allegedly contained child pornography, and had been uploaded and posted during a chat.”

In a case against a Newburyport man, “the report had been filed […] by electronic service provider [and] the complaint identified the internet protocol address, or IP, used to upload an image of child pornography.” And in Ottawa, following the arrest of another suspect, an officer told a news agency that the police started a “proactive investigation” into Chatstep.

A Sri Lankan Arrested For Credit Card Fraud Sold On Darknet

Three young men, including a Sri Lankan, have been arrested by the police for possessing around 144 fake credit cards. The Central Crime Branch police identified them as Nawaz Sherrief (22), Nadeem Sherrief (30), and Divya.

Divyan is from Sri Lanka and the other two are from Kanaka Nagar and HBR Layout respectively.

Credit cards are sold in large quantities on the Darknet marketplace, and scammers purchase them to hack their targets. They are suspected to have obtained the cards from the USA, Japan, Britain, and other countries through the Darknet market. They use the card details to make fake credit cards to purchase things online.

Different hacker group set up platforms on the Darknet to promote and sell their credit cards to interested buyers. In 2016, it was observed that $400 million worth of financial data was in possession of a single Darknet website, set up by a single group of hackers.

The FireEye’s director of Threatscape Cybercrime, John Miller said a year ago upon research that, a small shop might sell thousands of pieces card data, and large shops might sell millions of cards associated with just a breach.

Divyan, the Sri Lankan man is the main suspect, and it was reported that he came to India some time ago. The Police officer gave a comprehensive explanation on the news surrounding the arrest: “The main accused, Divyan, had come to India illegally about a decade ago and was staying in Chennai. He is also wanted by the Chennai police.”

This is not the first news of foreigners in India being arrested on criminal activities linked to the Darknet. A gang of foreign students was some few weeks ago arrested for distributing illegal drugs on the Darknet.

The three arrested suspects are reported to have attempted to cheat on an electronic shop owner. The police officer said: “The three were caught after they tried to cheat the owner of Vishnu Priya International, an electronics store in Doddakallasandra. The gang had bought three LeD TVs on June 21 for a price of Rs 1.10 lakh using the fake credit cards. As the money was not credited to the owner’s account, he had filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime Police on Friday.”

India police are aware of the credit card fraud that occurs on the Darknet among Indians. A special force in India recently uncovered a credit card fraud group. The police even reported that the group used stolen credit card numbers to purchase items on the internet, just as the three arrested suspects.

The Special Task Force after the investigation said that a group of people created a network of crime on the Darknet. A report on the investigation of the Task Force states that: “Security agencies claim that international customers’ credit card details are available on the Darknet and some open forums, which are leaked by international hackers by compromising card number, CVV and expiry date.”

The report has also confirmed that the three suspects obtained the credit card information from the Darknet marketplace. The online marketplace offer varieties of technologies for any kind of frauding activities. The arrested trio took advantage of the purchase an empty magnetic card swipe cards. They have a software that they use together with the empty magnetic swipe to update the stolen credit cards.

This has been the method of several credit card fraudsters, to steal, and sell the cards on the online platforms. Due to the loss incurred by victims, this has been a national interest to fight against cyber theft.

The police officer, in his statement to the reporters, continued that: “They were getting their swiping card machines from agents in Haryana, Mumbai, Puducherry and other parts of the country and were paying a commission to the agents. Nadeem is wanted by Cottonpet, Upparpet and by the Mumbai police for similar offenses. The CCB police suspect that there are more people involved in the racket.”

Credit card thieves usually operate from cities, and in markets that give them chance to promote their services on social networks. The cards are mostly stolen from some banks in the USA. Individuals and organizations should, therefore, be cautious of the kind of links they click on. Individuals should also make their pin codes and CVV number more confidential, as much as possible.


Most Drugs Don’t Expire and Why the Government Already Knows This

New research from the California Poison Control System seems to confirm past studies which showed that generally most drugs can remain potent and effective well after their expiration date. The Californian researchers discovered a stash of a variety of drugs that were still sealed in their original packaging and had been stored in good conditions, many of which had been stored there since the 1960s. This vintage supply of drugs was analyzed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Roy Gerona, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine helped do the testing on the drugs that had been in storage. He told ProPublica and NPR that it was “very cool” to get the chance to run the tests to determine the quality of drugs which are over three decades old. Gerona was born in the Philippines and raised there during his childhood. He recalls how people there would often rely on expired drugs to treat their illnesses, and that they did not seem to experience negative side effects from consuming them.

In 1979, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required pharmaceutical manufacturers to label their drugs with an expiration date. The FDA requires manufacturers to do testing to determine how stable the product will remain over a certain time. To come up with an expiration date, pharmaceutical companies conduct tests which subject the drug to heat and moisture for a certain time. The pharmaceutical companies have a financial incentive to get people to buy new drugs, and not much incentive to get people to stockpile drugs for longer periods. The purpose of instating expiration dates was to force drug makers to state how long they could guarantee the quality, safety, and effectiveness of a drug. However, most drugs seem to remain potent, safe, and effective for decades after their expiration date. This FDA regulation has led to patients, hospitals, and pharmacies throwing out perfectly good drugs. Some side effects of the FDA’s expiration date requirement is that consumers end up paying higher prices and buying more drugs to replace drugs which have reached their expiration date. The government discourages consumers from using so-called “expired” medications. The research could lead to shelf life extension programs, which could save billions of dollars.

During this same time the FDA was making the expiration date requirement, the Department of Defense was trying to determine how long drugs could be stockpiled for. During the mid-1980s the FDA assisted the military in studying how long drugs retained their potency for. The research conducted at that time suggested that nearly 90% of drugs could remain potent for decades when stored properly. Since 1955 the United States military has maintained a strategic stockpile of drugs, intended to be used during an emergency. As of 1993 the Department of Defense was storing nearly 70,000 tons of opium and morphine at vaults located at Fort Knox in Kentucky, and at West Point in New York. This was intended to protect the supply of painkillers for the entire country for at least 1 year, as a safeguard against being cut off from opium supplies. By law the government morphine is not supposed to be sold, as it would hurt American pharmaceutical companies which sell the drug. However, like the gold stored at the vaults in Fort Knox and at West Point, there is no public audit or accountability to prove just how much morphine and other drugs are actually in the government’s vaults.

Some drugs which begin to significantly degrade over time are ones which contain plant materials, such as medical marijuana. THC in marijuana products can degrade to less psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds after a single year. Opium, which contains plant fats and oils will degrade over time, and become rancid and rot. During the early 1990s the US government realized it’s opium stockpile was going to rot away if they did not act to preserve it. To do this preservation of the painkiller stockpile, the government gave a contract to NORAMCO, a pharmaceutical company that was located in Delaware, and had them convert the US military’s opium stockpile into morphine sulfate. Morphine is the primary active chemical in opium, and pure morphine has a shelf life of at least decades when stored properly. There have been many accounts of people discovering old medicine bottles containing drugs such as cocaine or morphine which were over a hundred years old, and reportedly still produced significant effects. A drug’s chemical structure, the environment it is stored in, and the age are all factors which can influence how (or if) a drug degrades.

Some of the drugs found in the cache at the California Poison Control system included pain killers, stimulants, depressants, and antihistamines. Twelve of the 14 drugs tested at the University of California, San Francisco were nearly the same exact potency as they were when they were origina


Thailand Police seizes Assets of Late Alleged Mastermind behind AlphaBay

Thailand Police officials have seized almost $21 million worth of assets ranging from cryptocurrency to fleet of cars. These assets belonged to the alleged late founder of the dark web marketplace AlphaBay, one of the two largest markets which were taken by the FBI this month.

He died by committing suicide on July 24th in his jail cell at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Bangkok where he was waiting to be extradited to the U.S.

25-year-old Canadian citizen Alexandre Cazes, a computer wizard who according to reports had an IQ of 142 was arrested by police in Thailand at the request of the United States where he was wanted on about 16 charges including conspiracy, racketeering, identity theft, money laundering and other crimes.

General Chalermkiat Sriworakhan, the Deputy National Police Commissioner stated that Alexandre Cazes and his network might have amassed millions of dollars through their illegal activities.

“We have seized over 700 million baht (equivalent to $21 million) worth of assets, cars, and cryptocurrency,” Chalermkiat told Reuters. As to whether he was provided with a lawyer or if the police had offered him one is still unknown, as that has been the case in Thailand for some time.

The Chief Police of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau Lt Sommai Kongwisaisuk also said that everything was under control and in no way will Casez’ death affect the ongoing investigation.

AlphaBay was considered the biggest online darknet marketplace for drugs. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were estimated to be generated through daily transactions.

Cazes, who was alleged to be “Alpha02” by many in the online business operated primarily from Thailand where he owned many properties and also married his wife Sunisa Casez, who is also in custody facing money laundering charges.

While he was married, he still viewed himself as the Casanova or player type occasionally bragging about how he cheated on his wife.

“I have a secondary residence that no one knows about – and that’s where I bring girls” he once wrote on the Roosh V forum of which he was registered with the username “Rawmeo.”

He was vibrant on the internet and some of the posts he made years back were retrieved where he branded himself as a “professional cheater”. He also believed women living in the West were “poisoned by feminism and also described Muslims who migrated to Canada as “breeding like bedbugs.”

Reports suggest he was very active on the Roosh V forum and posted many times on the forum which sometimes caused a stir among the members.

Some of the forum users at one point wouldn’t believe Rawmeo’s claim that he drove a Porsche and challenged him to explain how he became so rich so quickly and in an attempt to prove his Porsche ownership, sent a video of himself driving the Porsche. He later posted on the forum saying “We all have a business; we all have our own ways to get some money.”

His most discussed forum contribution came last year when he wrote a 7,500-word post talking about dating and “wife-hunting” in Thailand.

He went ahead to write that he moved from Quebec to Thailand to search for a wife saying he left a broken society to live in a traditional one.” He arrived in Thailand in 2010, learned to speak Thai by attending a language school, opened bank accounts and purchased many luxurious houses, and drove a Porsche Panamera because “Thai girls love supercars.” He established AlphaBay in 2014 which grew to be the largest darknet marketplace which had over 200,000 members at the time it was taken down.

Cazes’ arrest came as the aftermath of a police operation called Bayonet, which involved authorities in six countries including the FBI, the Dutch National Police, Canadian Police, Lithuanian Police and the Royal Thai Police.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated last week that, AlphaBay was “the largest darknet marketplace in history” when he announced its shutdown by the U.S. Justice Department.

His parents, however, seemed to be totally ignorant of his alleged illegal dealings, attitude, and lifestyle. His stepmother labeled him a “good boy” in an interview with his father also describing him to a Montreal newspaper as “an extraordinary young man” and “a little genius” with no criminal record.

His parents went ahead to question the charges against him and his reported suicide in jail. “Let’s see if we can really kill ourselves with a towel attached to a door handle,” his stepmother wrote on Facebook in French. “Try it and see . . . it’s impossible.”


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

High School Students In India Ordered LSD From The Dark Web

Four teenagers from India, currently heading towards the end of their high school years, ordered LSD from the dark web. Law enforcement authorities identified them while they were investigating a suspect in another case.

The media outlet detailed that the high school students were identified when law enforcement authorities searched a “series of drug rackets” on July 2. After the investigators have examined the scene and interrogated the main suspect, they discovered a connection between the accused and the four teenagers. At first, police officers did not believe that ordering drugs from the dark web is popular in “some circles”.

“When we further probed, those four teenagers were identified. They are from well-to-do families,” an investigator said.

One of the teenagers’ father is serving a key position in the government along with being a conferred “all India service provider” while another student’s parents are doctors, The Hindu wrote. Two of the minors’ fathers are in high-ranking positions in a “renowned private company”, which is involved in different sections of the economy in India, including the construction of airports.

When law enforcement authorities approached the students, they were so confused and scared that they did not say anything at first. However, later on, one of them admitted that he learned about the use of the dark web from his elder brother’s friend. According to one of the investigators, who preferred to stay anonymous to the media, law enforcement identified the suspect as a first-grade computer engineering student studying in Bengaluru who “used to purchase LSD online”. Police said the suspect showed the teenagers how to download Tor to their laptops and use the software to browse the dark web.

Police officers tried to use Tor browser to access darknet marketplaces, however, they failed to do so, the Hindu reported. According to the news publication, the investigators were unable to get the .onion links online. However, when authorities asked one of the students to access the darknet, he was able to order LSD from a darknet marketplace in only 96 seconds surprising the police officers. Law enforcement authorities reported, when the teenagers purchased LSD from the dark web, they provided their home addresses for the deliveries.

“Parents think their wards were receiving books or study material through parcel services or courier agencies but these boys got LSD blots,” an investigator said.

After an investigation on the dark web in connection with the four teenagers, Prohibition & Excise (P&E) Director Akun Sabharwal stated that the investigators discovered the drugs were mostly sent from South American countries to the students. Mr. Sabharwal added that law enforcement authorities will not register any cases and will not press any charges against the students.