Home » Side event: SCO and UNODC in the Fight Against the Illicit Drug Threat: Countering Drug Trafficking via Darknet

Side event: SCO and UNODC in the Fight Against the Illicit Drug Threat: Countering Drug Trafficking via Darknet

Organized by the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the UNODC Regional Section for Europe, West and Central Asia.

Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the UNODC: reports show half of dark net activities are associated with drugs. International operations have had some high profile successes in closing dark nets, including Silk Road, Alpha B, and Hanza. however, more spring up in their place. Dark net trafficking represents just a fraction of drug sales, and each single transaction is usually no more than 100 dollars. However, serious concerns since the use of this has increased to 11% -2019 demonstrating a  serious increasing threat. Synthetic drugs are growing as an increasingly big threat. This even is an opportunity to discuss strategic direction. (4th major side event with SCO). This cooperation highlights chapter 8 of the UN charter. UNODC and the SCO have further advanced cooperation. SCO member states collectively account for more than 3 billion people with young people representing half this number. A coordinated response to drugs is needed to protect the health and safety of the next generation. I highlight the triangular initiative and afghan, kyrgyzstan, tajikistan initiative as successful cooperation and commend the SCO cooperation with Paris the pact initiative which promotes balanced comprehensive responses to drug trafficking via the dark net and address challenges posed by illicit drugs. UNODC will continue to support countries in this endeavour.

Vladimir Norov, SCO Secretary-General: We live in a fairly open and independent world and at present about 4 billion people are internet users, 71% of which are young people from 15-25 years of age. In our globalized worlds because of our broad consumption of technology and the internet, we see it has become the object of criminal activities. This special software which is used to aid the sale of narcotic drugs and weapons and prohibited materials, which provides the access to young people to these prohibited products and this kind of software products assure an anonymity which prevents law enforcement activities. According to specialist evaluations, up to 60% of transactions are of narcotic drugs, instead of cash payments crypto currency is used to settle accounts. The process leads to risk of involvement of money laundering, hinders the local authorities attempt to counter narcotic drug trafficking and hinders the stability of young people and states. A priority area within the framework of the updated drug strategy of the SCO is to tackle dark net drug selling. An event to present the Spider Net Programme is to be held in Russia next month, in order to prevent drugs and other psychoactive substance deliveries, using internet sources and using financial payment systems. Anti-drug agencies are based on the equality of states who participate in setting standards and rules for such an operation. International information security – in 2009 as a result of its work, an intergovernmental agreement was signed to fight OCG using communication networks. An important step was the support of the SCO. Making a significant contribution to support inclusive and legally binding instruments. we have the intention to continue to achieve a global consensus on this issue. SCO are willing to hold a dialogue with states in order to combat drug trafficking in the informal segment of the internet and the SCO is willing to coordinate continued support in joint working of this area.

Oleg Syrmolotov, Deputy of Foriegn Affairs, Russian Federation: The Russian Federation is the acting presidency of the SCO. We have actively worked under the Paris plan, in 2016 we had a group of experts session on the agreement on counteracting the trafficking of opiates from Afghanistan and an informal meeting on Afghan sources of narcotic drugs. We have plans to hold a group of member of the Paris pact to enhance the SCO initiatives. We invite all the experts of our headquarters and offices of the UNODC to take part. At present all the discussions held under the strategy of SCO members are to make more active our struggle against the traffic of narcotic drugs, also by deepening our relationships with international and regional structures, one of our priorities as presidency of the SCO is countering the trafficking through internet technologies. This is important for all states – so we organise in the Russian Federation training for national representatives for UNDP and other UN bodies. The internet has become not just a means to promote narcotic drugs but also touting drugs among young people and trading of narcotic drugs on the internet. 10% of all crimes in Russia are to do with narcotic drugs and the dark net is a window for further growth. A detailed report will be done by Anton Palovich, on the narcotic drugs of the ministry of the interior of Russia, action against all narcotic drugs trafficking and money laundering processes. 

Anton Khazaridi, Deputy Head of Dept of Russian Federation Internal Affairs: [Presenting report on fighting trafficking of drugs through the dark net] One method of counteracting distribution of narcotic drugs through the dark net is by limiting access to pages with pro narcotic drugs content. Last year we reviewed over 40,000 electronic messages with 22,000 expert decisions to limit access to similar web resources. These measures allowed us to reduce the amount of legal content on the darknet. However, it led to the growing use of the dealers to go around the limitations through VPN, TOR and other means. As a country of one of the biggest users of TOR portals ,including 600,000 downloads per day, the biggest threat comes from Hydra platform (est 2015) which is the biggest in the post-Soviet space using bitcoins,. it uses fake documents, false currency, bank cards using stolen personal data and special equipment to get access to computerised information for various criminal services. The administration is done on the basis of round the clock kcontrol. According to our data this platform accounts for 7million US dollars of narcotic drugs per day. [Shows slide – average prices of the goods sold through hydra including heroin, cocaine etc.] It has been established that some of the mirrors of Hydra and other criminal online shops are belonging to Cloudflare in the US – used by criminal and terrorist structures, including ISIS. At present, with cooperation with our american partners, we will take measures to see who is responsible for this operator. We use the services of our russian IT companies including products for block chain biometric data etc, this allows for identification or the personalities of those people who are involved in the dark net shops of illegal drugs. We established with cooperation with international post catalogues to eliminate 45 illegal labs. The Russian Federation have illuminated shops. this and other slide show photos [of precursors, cannabinoids, opiates] Chempro is a narcotic drug syndicate- important parts of this syndicate were arrested in Ukraine and have re established activities in our country – we have seized more than 40 tonnes of precursor, arrested dozens, mostly Ukraininans citizens. In November last year in the leningrad region huge laboratories were eliminated which was engaged in producing PVB, 8 tonnes of precursor was seized, arrests included citizens of Belaruss, based on Hydra and internet platforms. The selling of narcotic drugs on the dark net is now well organised. 156 OCGs and 78 criminal organisations participate in this type of crime. We established specialised units in most of our regions, now we aim to provide them with equipment and specialists, and delegates were interested in continuing our cooperation in counteracting the trafficking of drugs on the dark net. In 2019 our country ratified the second protocol of the international convention to establish international investigative groups.


Oleksey Foscehnko UNODC Cryptocurrency: Brief on current situation of the dark net: this business is growing – in 2018 less than 600 million US dollars, 2019 more than 800 millions US dollars a year. Most importantly when you buy drugs online you don’t pay by credit card – you need a safer method of payment and the payment of choice is crypto currencies. There are two methods of taking down dark net trade. The first option is very expensive and requires lots of resource – this involves finding the administrator, locate servers and take down the website – this is very expensive. The second option: you don’t need to chase traffickers in virtual worlds but instead target them when they cash out. Because you cannot pay in cryptocurrencies. If you have enough trained investigators and if crypto currency market exchange service providers are regulated you can strike into a vulnerable point and when people exchange crypto for real money they can be detected and disrupted. UNODC has been offering how to trace how to regulate crypto currencies, (training). Each country has the opportunity to have real bitcoins, real investigations within the training session. We have completed 17 trainings and 600 officers trained – and have cooperated with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia and Iran – where we train. Training is very practical, and can train good law enforcement officers how to investigate crypto currencies. 


India: The internet is rightly held as greatest discovery of recent times and is integral part of existence of almost everyone but it is a good ally of drug traffickers. The first instances relating to dark net use for drugs that we came to know of in India was consumers who would order drugs for their own consumption over the darknet. We have been successful for catching the first ever darknet vendor in our country – caught with small consignment of 9000 tablets of tramadol shipping to the UK. This was possible as due to the participation in INCB’s ‘trance’ – three further interceptions followed for tramadol and other psychotropic substances – became evident traffic is involved in the shipment of narcotic substances. We were successful in breaking into this market and arrested the vendor in February this year. One of his accomplices turned out be a person owning a company in central india who was involved in the shipping of pharmaceuticals to the US. Traditional policing methods will not work in the complex area of the dark net, need capacity building and increased resources- better international cooperation and improved cyber patrolling. The drugs traded through the darknet are ultimately shipped through the courier, therefor it is important that detection through these routes are strengthened and need better cooperation with postal and courier services. India is committed to treating narcotic trafficking of which the darknet is an integral part. 


Mr Magdanov, Chief of the Narcotic Department of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan: Narco crime has more and more to do with communications technology which has a global trade. About 5,000 website accounts and other resources have been blocked by Kazakhstan. we have studied the possibility to establish an international single roster of internet resources registered as illegal by national agencies. We have implemented actions to partial shutting down of resources and damaging their reputation however, they rebrand or keep their brand and open on other platforms online. They use graffiti to promote their activity in public places – we have taken these down. In order to promote the spread of narcotic drugs, groups and chats have been sending messages in social networks. The internet is used by a small share. Developing of new software allows us to systematise our new data. Our country takes considerable efforts to block threats. We need to change our legislation in order to cover the use of present day technologies in the use of narcotic drugs trafficking through promotion of illegal narcotic drugs in social network as well as graffiti. Our parliament is reviewing a draft law, if passed, will simplify law enforcement activities to identify payments through the KIWI payment system and other electronic purse systems. in 2018 measures were taken to make crimes more severe punishable which should make our measures more effective. at present we have a narcotic drugs strategy with SCO and a plan to implement it. We thank UNODC and Russia for our Spider Network Operation which lead to seizures of 7 tonnes of narcotic drugs. 

Deputy Commissioner of China Narcotic Control Commission: With the world’s biggest internet user population, the Chinese government places great importance on sustainable development of the internet industry. Over the past years we have cracked tens of thousands of drug related cases, 30,000 suspects arrested and shut down a large number of websites associated with the drug offences, effectively cutting off the link of supply chain. The dark net is a universal challenge for law enforcement agencies around the world, it is difficult to trace the source website to decipher encrypted communications and to track crypto currencies. In cases we found locally, the traffickers operating on the darknet communicate through telegram and other encrypted media software. Drug deals are also made by crypto currencies, and financial flows can be detected in the block chain but uncovering the actual transaction can be a formidable task. Our legislation and policies among countries are usually very different and cooperating on darknet eradication is in its start up phase. To commit to the challenge we call on all parties on technology development to strengthen enforcement cooperation. China recommends stringent regulations on the dark net  by learning from countries with more experiences. Secondly, stringent cooperation on darknet and social media, countries where dark nets are based should cooperate and share information, thirdly, improve capability on darknet drug cases – tracing source websites, improve capability on evidence collection. We also recommend UNODC organise regular investigative training on the dark net. 

Oleg Sapolskiy, Kyrgyzstan Internal Affairs on Tackling Narcotic Drugs: My country has felt recently the influence of new technologies on the darknet traffic of narcotic drugs. Consumers are being supplied through the dark net without any personal contact, where payment is paid anonymously. this is an opportunity for traffickers to promote their goods and sell them. This problem is a new challenge, the scale of which we have not yet felt, we know that there are 250 virtual shops selling to the Kyrgyzs republic. We are yet to develop new means to make it possible to counteract this. That’s why these events are an important opportunity to improve on our knowledge and share opinions on the subject. We are willing to take part in the most active measures, we hope to receive assistance from our international partners with whom we have been cooperating. 

Pakistan: I will reaffirm Pakistan’s commitment to CISCO’s strategy. Phase one of Spider Web in 2019 was successful. The second phase hopefully will achieve its optimum. Dark net trafficking of drugs has become one of the most complex challenges and has become difficult for law enforcement. Technical capacity and related infrastructure to address the damage of illicit drug trafficking and this further compounded by involvement of other countries and cryptocurrency. the few instances where darknet was found in Pakistan was for ecstasy tablets, currently Pakistan enforcers have insufficient capacity to counteract the dark net. I invite this house to take joint measures to counteract these emerging measures by developing and improving capacity of its member states and have undercover operations using improved technology. I take pride that recent project Aman [?] is a criminal database – artificial intelligence – which can help states globally to catch those committing crimes related to drugs. 

Tajikistan: This event held with high-level officials is a testimony that we are committed to solving the narcotic drugs problem. Tajikistan as an active member of SCO tries to establish better capacity including our law enforcement agencies. Our national programme to complete the SCO narcotic program includes the Spider Net programme implemented last year. In May last year our government held an international conference for national and international cooperation to counteract narcotic drugs and against organised transnational crime. It discussed the dark net use problem, discussed the attempt to establish a strong barrier to afghanistan. this could reduce the crime level especially among those with narcotic dependency. We’ve seized narcotic drugs and drug related crimes have reduced. 32 transnational drug groups have been eliminated and over 100 leaders have been arrested. Foreign law enforcement agencies have cooperated with us over the northern route. Interaction with the Russian Federation could lead to the arrest of 32 more criminal group leaders, many of whom have sold heroin in russia through the dark net. The most serious problem that concerns us is the increase of NPS import and consumption by our young people. 24,000 tablets were seized in two years. – in central asian countries some of the dark nets have been active. We don’t produce synthetic drugs in Tajikistan, they come from Europe and recently Afghanistan. We have agreed to have an entire narcotic drugs agency of the SCO, considering the issues in Tajikistan, we think this should be based in our capital city and we hope this will be supported by our members of the SCO

Uzbekistan: Dark net use is a threat to security and peace at a global level. Last year Uzbekistan continued to work to reduce the amount of narcotic drugs use and to regulate import of narcotic drugs and increase capacity of law enforcement agencies and anti-addiction services. Over 1000 kilos of narcotic drugs seized last year which is less than in 2018. We have grounds to believe that is due to the measures we have taken to target narcotic drugs. We have more and more evidence that the darknet opportunities are being used by criminals, wide spread electronic financial transactions and the increased use of the internet by young people is a feeding ground for that. If we could develop our practical cooperation between UNODC and SCO to develop the narcotic drugs threat. The joint declaration between UNODC and SCO adopted in 2010 and memorandum of understanding between secretariats opens up new opportunities to coordinate on our fight against drug trafficking. We call for closer cooperation and developing new methods and means in targeting illegal drugs and their precursors. Uzbekistan has been active assisting to take measures to protect central asian states security and to resist the spread of the narcotic drugs,

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