Personal use, social supply or redistribution? cryptomarket demand on Silk Road 2 and Agora

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

In 2011, Silk Road became the first black market, or "cryptomarket", for illicit drugs. This study examines two of the largest cryptomarkets which have operated, Silk Road 2.0 and Agora Marketplace. We hypothesize that cryptomarkets cater to buyers who intend to resell or redistribute the products, specifically in the form of social drug dealing, and that larger quantities will be purchased on the cryptomarkets over time. We examine these hypotheses through a descriptive and qualitative assessment of the distribution of drugs sold, and an estimated trend line based on simple linear regression. Data was collected using a custom web crawler which was supplemented with a dataset collected by independent researcher Gwern Branwen, community members and researchers in total spanning the period from February 28th 2014 to April 2015. The observed demand was primarily for quantities intended for personal use or social drug dealing. The majority of sales fell within the lower price ranges, although a significant part of the revenue was generated in price ranges that suggested business-to-business dealing. Furthermore, we found that the sizes of the purchases decreased significantly in both the case of Silk Road 2.0 and Agora Marketplace. The results suggest that cryptomarkets resemble traditional drug markets in terms of the distribution and revenues. As such, it is relevant to include cryptomarkets in discussions about potential reductions of the harmful social consequences of drug markets, as well as in general discussions about drug markets and drug trafficking.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Organized Crime
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)42-61
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Dear reader,
It has come to our attention that a typo is present in our manuscript "Personal use, social supply or redistribution? cryptomarket demand on Silk Road 2 and Agora". The typo is on page 9 of the manuscript in the first line of the "Results"-section. It reads "Between 28 November 2014 and 23 April 2015" and should be "Between 28 November 2013 and 23 April 2015". The typo does not affect any results or the discussion, and the included figures shows the correct date.

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - cryptomarkets, Darkweb, Drug markets, Social dealing, Social supply, Web crawling, Cybercrime

ID: 222750662