New Dark Web Marketplace Claims Ties to Mexican Drug Cartel
In recent months, DarkOwl analysts have discovered multiple pro-hosted decentralized marketplaces on the dark web that claim to be affiliated with the Sinaloa Cartel, a dedicated online portal for the notorious Mexican criminal cartel.
These dark web marketplaces offer drug and hitman services, just as they do in the real world, and attempt to add legitimacy to their listings by claiming to be backed by "experienced" players in their respective fields.
The emergence of these marketplaces was identified by DarkOwl analysts, who saw a trend away from large marketplaces that attracted the attention of law enforcement and toward smaller, less public sites.
The most notable examples presented in the DarkOwl report include new and old marketplaces that have become prominent due to changing environmental market conditions.
Some of the sites mentioned below have recently been updated with new features and user-friendly interfaces in an attempt to attract audiences interested in illicit products.
Cartel de Sinaloa (CDS Marketplace)
A marketplace allegedly linked to the Mexican criminal group "Cártel de Sinaloa". Sells drugs, chemicals, weapons, malware, money laundering and hitman services, and also has a hosted payment system.
The CDS Marketplace is hosted on Tor and includes Marketplace Hosting and Early Completion (FE) options. The marketplace lists the following categories of goods and services: barbiturates, software and malware, employment services, prescriptions, opioid antagonists, money laundering, human trafficking, secession, weapons, opioids, counterfeiting, human organs, benzodiazepines, stimulants, ecstasy, fraud, drug paraphernalia, research chemicals, weight loss, and more. Many of these categories can be found on traditional dark web marketplaces, but this marketplace includes options to purchase human organs and rental services. Despite the existence of these specific categories of illicit goods and the fact that the Cartel de Sinaloa marketplace has been active for several months, the list of products offered or advertised for sale under any of the categories described is nil.
The marketplace advertises a variety of products, including drugs and hired killers. However, the only option under "Shop" is to submit a job request that includes "Shooting", "Stabbing", "Kidnapping ", "accidental murder" and other options. The most expensive service offered is sniper work, which costs $10,000. The prices on the form include US dollar currency and support payment via Bitcoin.
Cartel Gulf Texas
This marketplace is affiliated with the Sinaloa gang and promises to ship drugs from Laredo, Texas to anywhere in the world via USPS.
Gulf Cartel Texas' Tor service has been online since 2020 and is not designed to be as sophisticated as other services found using Vision UI products, but will advertise the vast array of different drugs available for purchase, coincidentally, "from the mountains from the Sinaloa Cartel." The Texas Gulf Cartel - straight from the border - includes the disclaimer: "Warning scammers are actively impersonating us, we will never send emails or threaten you in bad English."
Associated with the Colombian paramilitary group "Clan del Golfo," this marketplace sells pure (over 90%) cocaine and killer services.
It offers a rental service on Tor and sells high-quality pure cocaine exclusively on its marketplace. The landing page has a volcano in the background and the site is designed to be user-friendly with traditional navigation links, such as: "Home", "About Us", "Services" and "Contact Us" section. The marketplace offers a number of products with marked photos, including over 90% of Fishscale Colombian cocaine and 84% of Dutch MDMA champagne crystals, and says they were traded on Darkfox and DarkMarket before the decentralized marketplace was confiscated. They have very strict rules about orders, including no direct or face-to-face meetups, and advertise that they have filled over 750 orders from over 400 customers.
Cartel Jalisco Nuevo Generation (CJNG)
This marketplace is associated with the Mexican gang of the same name and claims to be "the world's most trusted distributor of bulk cocaine. It supports airdrops by sea or air and accepts bitcoin payments.
Anonymous dead deliveries are made by sea and air. They advertise that they have had thousands of sales since Empire Market and accept payments via Bitcoin. The site also claims that "a portion of all sales will go to nonprofits and organizations that support online freedom." CJNG is considered one of the largest suppliers of fentanyl in the U.S. Just in late June, more than 60 members of the military cartel posted videos on social media in which they proudly displayed the various protective gear, weapons, and vehicles they could use to conduct ongoing operations.
Products available on the CJNG market include a limited selection of drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana and amphetamine crystal fragments. The news section of the site is not up-to-date and was last shared in March 2020; site administrators include Wickr and Jabber encrypted chat accounts and secure email addresses (with PGP keys) for direct messaging and purchases. Some images of their products, such as the cocaine bricks, have a badge engraved on the top.
A marketplace focused on an Australian and New Zealand audience, established by a well-known dark web vendor that allegedly has direct ties to a Colombian cocaine tablet producer called the "Scorpion Cartel".
There is little open source information about any of the "Scorpion" cartels in Colombia, but internationally, there is a Red Scorpion gang in Canada and another simply called the Haitian Scorpion gang mentioned in the news article. In Mexico, a group called Escorpiones (Scorpions) was formed after a conflict between two CDG leaders and was guarded by Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, who eventually reportedly allied with the Cyclones after his death.
Henry Loaiza Ceballos (aka Scorpion "El Alacrán") was a prominent Colombian drug trafficker and member of the Cali Cartel in the early 1990s. 2019, he was "recaptured" and He is highly regarded among many drug cartels in Latin America. Interestingly, the symbol of the black scorpion is considered to be the "calling card" of the Sinaloa cartel, as depicted in a 2019 social media post by John McPhee.
Are these real?
Anything can be faked on the dark web, so all of the above marketplaces could easily be faked to increase their "authenticity" while scamming people out of money for orders that are never fulfilled.
In addition, law enforcement agencies have repeatedly offered killer services on the dark web as part of a honeypot operation to attract interested buyers.
Many of these marketplaces have been in existence since 2020, but recently there has been a sudden surge in activity as large, decentralized drug-focused marketplaces have shut down and operators of these so-called cartel sites claim to be successful providers.
Some notable recent drug-focused closures include Empire, Cannazon, Hydra and Versus Market, which collectively have left a huge gap in demand reports for illicit substances.
Regardless of the authenticity of these new or recently awakened cartel markets, their new status on the dark web suggests a changing dynamic in the space, with larger markets closing and being replaced by smaller, niche stores.
From：On DarkNet – Dark Web News and Analysis
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