The report, conducted by the government for the years the period of 2013-2016, showed that authorities had identified a new phenomenon in the distribution of narcotics on the dark web. According to the study, the illegal activity is difficult to cope with the anonymous nature of the Tor Network and the darknet marketplaces. In the illicit trades, one of the most commonly used currency is bitcoin.
“When investigating illegal trade on the internet, international cooperation is essential to the proactive approach of all EU member states with the possibility of joint investigation teams,” the document states.
The researchers claimed that the drug trade started moving from the streets to the darknet, where customers can buy illicit substances in wider varieties at better prices, and most importantly, they can do this while staying anonymous.
The study showed that the most popular drug in Slovakia is marijuana, especially in younger age groups. However, after the drug scene changed in 2013, the production of methamphetamine and cannabis cultivation began to dominate in the country.
“To a lesser extent occurred heroin, ecstasy, and cocaine, are becoming problematic new psychoactive substances and precursors diverted to the manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances,” the report said.
According to the report, Slovakia faces a “massive expansion” of illegally operated internet pharmacies and shops offering psychoactive substances, anabolic steroids, unregistered and fake narcotics. The use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) is mostly popular among young people. The Slovakian drug scene made Western European countries propose new regulations and laws on narcotics in 1992. At the turn of the millennium, Slovakia joined the European heroin wave. The opioid substance was domesticated in the Slovakian market, the country had become part of the so-called “Balkan route”, which is a smuggle and distribution drug line from Turkey to Western Europe, the government document said.
After 2000, the drug-related crimes started increasing in Slovakia. Over the years, criminal groups in large cities started producing methamphetamine, while cannabis growers started cultivating marijuana using the hydroponics method. The study also said that in 2009, there had been an increase in the number of Vietnamese criminals cultivating cannabis. Ecstasy and cocaine had appeared on the Slovakian drug scene too. In 2007, mostly Nigerian nationals purchased and handled the transactions for such substances, while Slovakian citizens were used as couriers, according to the research. However, after 2013, the demand for heroin had seen a decrease in the country, while the use of synthetic drugs, especially psychoactive substances used in combination with “conventional drugs”, had increased.
The report emphasized the importance and the danger of the highly potent opiate substance fentanyl. According to the study, the drug appeared on the Slovakian market in 2009. The researchers claimed that at the beginning, the substance was sold as heroin in Bratislava. However, this move of the narcotics dealers led to many dangers since fentanyl is about 40 times stronger than heroin. In the past years, Slovakia had banned the production of the substance.
In July 2014, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a warning about the potential for life-threatening harm from accidental exposure to transdermal fentanyl patches, particularly to children, and advised that they should be folded, with the adhesive side in, before being discarded. According to the warning, the patches should be kept away from children since they could likely to cause an overdose.
In September 2015, Canada declared the death by fentanyl overdose a public health crisis in the country, and it continues to be a major killer drug. Multiple reports show that in 2016, deaths from fatal fentanyl overdoses in British Columbia, Canada, averaged two persons per day. Additionally, medical experts concluded that musician Prince died from an accidental fentanyl overdose. According to police information, the substance was among many identified in counterfeit pills recovered from the musician’s home, especially some that were mislabeled as Watson 385, which is a combination of hydrocodone and paracetamol. Since both the production and the distribution of fentanyl is banned in many countries, the illicit narcotics trade started to increase. Many darknet vendors offer the substance to their customers for sale.