EDITORIAL | Fighting the online drug trade

This week, the Naga City police have sounded alarm on the use of the Internet in the local drug trade.

Enterprising pushers in the locality, it appears, are now using social media to communicate with customers.

This resulted in a buy-bust operation and the arrest of several people involved in a pot session at the residence of the suspect.

However, this is but one case, which merely confirms what many of us have long suspected: that the drug trade has migrated from dark street corners to the Internet.

Who knows how many others are clandestinely using social networks as a platform for facilitating drug trade? And how do we find out?

Some would probably recall how, in 2013, the major online market place for illegal goods called the Silk Road was shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Silk Road was notorious as a cryptomarket, where anonymous buyers and sellers found each other and traded prohibited items.

Since then, the Silk Road was never resuscitated, but many other cryptomarkets, capitalizing on the huge revenues of the illegal trade, have since sprung up.

Researchers studying the Silk Road case recommended that to tackle the Internet-facilitated drug trade, a combination of traditional investigation techniques, online detection strategies, and coordination among law enforcement agencies could play a facilitating role in curbing the problem.

Local law enforcers would likely do well to learn from the Silk Road example, and be extra vigilant as criminal minds find new illegal uses for technology.

Meanwhile, the rest of us better cooperate with the law enforcers if we truly want to see the end of this drug war. As it now appears, the problem has grown to gargantuan proportions. Or perhaps we never even knew its magnitude in the first place.