Russia and US Dominate Global Dark Market Traffic: Report

Russia and the U.S. together sent over $184 million to illicit online marketplaces in 2020, blockchain research firm Chainalysis said in its latest report.

According to an excerpt from the firm’s upcoming “2021 Crypto Crime Report,” published Monday, online marketplaces providing illegal goods like drugs and fake IDs received a record-setting amount of cryptocurrency last year, equivalent to $1.7 billion. Russia, the U.S., Ukraine and China are leading the global money traffic to such platforms.

Darknet marketplaces receive most of their money through peer-to-peer crypto marketplaces and centralized exchanges, Chainalysis wrote. However, in 2020, the use of centralized exchanges increased, as did mixing services, which allow to obfuscate the participants in a cryptocurrency transaction.

The report lists 10 countries that are most actively interacting with dark markets: Russia, the U.S., Ukraine, China, the U.K., Venezuela, Vietnam, Turkey, India and Germany. Together, these nations sent $538 million to illicit markets during 2020, while they received $403 million, Chainalysis said.

Russia sent around $169 million to the various darknet marketplaces, and received $119 million from such sites. The U.S. comes second, with $115 million sent and $64 million received. In a perhaps unexpected third place ahead of China, Ukraine sent to $47 million and received $52 million.

“Generally speaking, drugs are grown or manufactured in Latin America and Asia and consumed in North America and Northern & Western Europe,” the report reads. “Darknet vendors and administrators typically launder funds through cryptocurrency services – often over-the-counter (OTC) brokers – in China or Eastern Europe. We can see some of this activity in the blockchain data associated with darknet market transactions.”

The biggest marketplace in the field by far is Hydra, a Russian-language drug marketplace that pocketed 75% of the entire global dark market revenue, Chainalysis said….

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