Melbourne has seen a rise in the illegal gun trade, and it’s being blamed on the Darknet.
Illegal gun dealers have been setting up ads on the classifieds site, Craigslist advertising the sale of weapons; notably firearms. Once contacted, the seller often instructs the would-be buyer to contact them through the messaging app Wickr. Law enforcement have uncovered countless ads that offer guns and ammo for sale starting at $2,500. Victoria police issued a warning to would be buyers and sellers, stating that:
Police have conducted a number of investigations which have resulted in successful prosecutions from information gathered through these websites. If you are conducting business within these forums you will be caught and charged. For operational reasons, we cannot disclose the methodology used. We are absolutely committed to investigating these matters, prosecuting the offenders and removing firearms from our streets.
Chris Dawson, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Chief stated that illegal online marketplaces have made weapons more available and have made the sales and business transactions more anonymous. He also stated that they are aware of more than one illegal marketplace within the Darknet and that they are used to selling and purchasing illegal goods like drugs, and of course weaponry:
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission is aware that there are a number of illicit e-commerce websites on the dark web used for the sale and purchase of illicit commodities. These include weapons, illicit firearms, drugs, false identities, child abuse material, forged documents, secret foreign bank accounts, money laundering services, hacking techniques, phishing and spam tools, anonymous mail drops as well as other prohibited items.
Dawson also stated that global law enforcement has been successful in shutting down Darknet markets, and gave Silk Road as a prime example. He went on to say that anyone engaging in any illegal activity on these Darknet sites isn’t automatically granted anonymity anymore, and they can be caught and prosecuted.
Lesley Podesta, Alannah & Madeline Foundation Chief stated:
We are concerned to see firearms appear for sale online by private sellers, this may lead to a private, unregulated secondary market for firearms. We strongly support the need for firearm sales to be conducted with appropriate scrutiny and oversight.
More and more people are being busted for buying firearms from the deep web, as we see in recent and past articles. The shooting in Munich, Germany is a prime example. In collaboration with the FBI, German law enforcement was able to track down where the gunman purchased the weapon he used, and successfully arrested the seller after probing the Darknet markets. In another instance, a man from the United States was set up by Law Enforcement, and they intercepted packages containing firearms.
These are just two examples of people being arrested, tried, and prosecuted for the sale of illegal firearms and weaponry over Darknet Marketplaces.