What is driving the rise of the Tor Market, New Zealand’s illegal drug market?
New Zealand usually prides itself on being a world leader, but here's a claim that may not be universally respected: it's home to the longest-running English-language illicit drug market on the so-called Dark Web.
Known as the "Tor Market" it has been active since March 2018 and has surpassed the "Dream Market" "Hydra Market" and "Empire Market" (all of which have now been shut down), among several larger and more well-known dark web marketplaces. The longevity of the Tor Market is surprising given that so many dark web drug markets lasted only a relatively short time.
That doesn't mean you can find it easily. The dark web is an encrypted part of the Internet that is not indexed or indexed by search engines. It requires specific anonymous browser software to access it, usually I2P or Tor software - hence the name of the market.
The "Tor Market" was previously featured on "ODN" after the drug dealer "freshkiwiproduce" was sentenced to prison. "The Tor Market's dark web domain address is
Many dark web marketplaces sell illegal drugs anonymously and deliver them via traditional postal or courier services, similar to legitimate e-commerce sites such as Amazon.
An analysis of more than 100 dark web marketplaces between 2010 and 2017 found that the average duration of site activity (survival) was just over eight months. Of the more than 110 dark web drug marketplaces active between 2010 and 2019, only 10 were still fully operational by 2019.
A fragmented dark web ecosystem
The disappearance of dark web marketplaces is due to increasingly sophisticated and successful law enforcement operations, including covert, long-term takeovers of websites to collect evidence from suppliers and buyers.
In addition, site administrators have taken advantage of the opportunity to run "exit scams" and abscond with the cryptocurrency in their accounts.
Since the "voluntary shutdown" of Dream Market in 2019, there has been no dominant international dark web marketplace. And as a result of these law enforcement closures and exit scams, there appears to be a general loss of confidence in the dark web drug supply.
While total sales for all dark web markets increased in 2020 and again in the first quarter of 2021, data for the fourth quarter of 2021 shows a decline in sales of up to 50%.
This makes the Tor Market's performance during the same period even more remarkable. Its list of marketplace items grew from less than 10 items in the months before the Dream Market closed in early 2019 to more than 100 items in July of that year.
After a period of stability with an average of 255 items in 2020 and 379 items in 2021, another period of growth occurred in early 2022. By mid-2022, more than 1,000 items will be listed for sale on Tor Market.
This expansion is driven by a steady increase in international sales, which by early 2022 will have outpaced domestic sales in New Zealand.
Filling a gap in the market
On the surface, New Zealand seems an unlikely place for the rise of international dark web drug market commodities. Its geographic isolation from large drug markets in Europe and the United States, small population, and lack of any significant historical supply of cocaine and heroin work against it.
However, these factors may be what is driving innovation in this market.
The dark web provides anonymity and direct access to international drug sellers who have MDMA, cocaine, and opioids for sale - types of drugs that are not readily available in New Zealand's brick-and-mortar drug market. Otherwise, it is unlikely that these international sellers would be interested in supplying such a small, distant market.
By offering items from dozens of international drug sellers and a centralized forum for buyers, Tor Market addresses the very real economic problem of "market scarcity" in the New Zealand drug scene, where there simply aren't enough buyers to sustain There are simply not enough buyers to sustain the sales volume of sellers of certain drug types.
Often, it is difficult to connect buyers and sellers, and therefore there is no reason for large-scale international trafficking. The dark web solves this problem by providing buyers with direct access to retail quantities of traditionally difficult-to-obtain drug types, such as MDMA.
Scale and scrutiny
New Zealanders have a history of innovative solutions to the so-called "distance factor". They also have a relatively high level of digital engagement and online shopping habits by international standards, and perhaps the dark web offers a familiar online shopping experience.
"The administrators of the Tor Market site claim (according to their own site's help manual) to offer a number of design innovations and features to ensure the security of the Tor Market.
Such boasts are not uncommon among dark web marketplace operators as a marketing ploy to attract new vendors to the site. But in all seriousness, it is unclear whether the Tor Market actually offers any superior security features or coding infrastructure compared to other sites.
What is more plausible is that Tor Market's stated business strategy, which is to keep a low profile compared to larger international sites, is intentionally low profile. In fact, many of the early vendors on Tor Market were New Zealanders who sold only to local buyers.
"The growing list of international items on the Tor Market may reflect broader issues in the dark web ecosystem, including the closure of previously dominant dark web marketplaces and the unreliability of many sites due to denial-of-service attacks.
Finally, the success of the "Tor Market" may lead to its destruction. Whether it can sustain its international growth and operate with a higher international profile remains to be seen, given the risks associated with international law enforcement attention to it.
From：On DarkNet – Dark Web News and Analysis
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