By Supriya Ramesh
New Delhi, Apr 2 (IANS): In recent years, the dark web has become a hub for illegal activities such as drug trafficking, cybercrime, and human trafficking. And now, reports suggest that Delhi is emerging as a hotspot for dark web syndicates.
According to sources, a number of criminal groups in Delhi are using the anonymity of the dark web to carry out their illegal activities. These groups are using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to make anonymous transactions, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track them down.
Some of the most common illegal activities being carried out by these syndicates include drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and money laundering.
The dark web is also being used to sell stolen data, including credit card details and personal information.
"To combat this growing trend, the Delhi Police have formed a special team of the Cyber Cell to monitor the activities of dark web syndicates. The team is working with other law enforcement agencies to track down and apprehend those involved in these illegal activities," said a senior police official.
"In recent months, the police have also carried out a number of successful operations against dark web syndicates. In one operation, they were able to arrest a group of individuals who were involved in selling drugs on the dark web. The police seized a large quantity of drugs and other illegal items during the raid," said the official.
In September last year, the Delhi Police had arrested seven people including an IIM dropout, a BBA student and a fashion designer sourcing hard chemical drugs like LSD, MDMA and marijuana from abroad using the dark web in order to supply them through courier services to college students across Delhi- National Capital Region, officials said.
The arrests came separately after police followed tip offs and narrowed down on the accused following seizure of 28 blotting papers of LSD, 12.6 gm of MDMA, 84 gm of curated marijuana and 220 gm of hashish.
Not only this, the dark web is also used by the gangs and syndicates to illegally route drugs including hash, opium, weed, ayurvedic tablets containing opium like Kamini Vidrawan Ras and Barshasa among others to western countries.
Explaining the modus operandi, a senior police official said that these dark web syndicates use ‘ToR', an anonymity network that hides your identity as you browse the web, share content, and engage in other online activities, and further create Bitcoin to escape the money trail.
"Transactions are usually made through cryptocurrency, after dealers are contacted through VPN (virtual private network)," said the official.
A dark net user told IANS that these days 'Onion domain" (for example.......xyz.onion instead of .com or .in or .au etc..) on ToR which does not register a user like other domains is being used rapidly for drug trading.
"When registering an Onion URL, a hash key is generated for hosting his or her website. The URL of the concerned website is then entered and a network is established between the buyer and seller," he said, adding that one can search the website on the dark web even on some search engines, blogs, websites and the website's URL are even shared through WhatsApp groups, Telegram among others.
The syndicates lure customers by advertisements that resemble a restaurant menu and feature them on Instagram, Telegram, Skype for interaction.
The rise of the dark web syndicates in Delhi remains a major concern. The anonymity of the dark web makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track down those involved in illegal activities, and the use of cryptocurrencies makes it even harder to trace the transactions.