Dark Web Crime Beat: Nine Men Busted for Using Crypto to Sell Drugs


Police in South Korea have arrested nine men who used cryptocurrency to sell drugs on the Dark Web.

If you watch movies and TV shows, you would assume that most cryptocurrency transactions take place on the Dark Web. A common trope is having a drug dealer, hitman, or gun runner operating a business in the shadowy, murky corners of the Dark Web that somehow people can easily stumble into. The reality is far different as the vast, vast majority of crypto transactions are done for perfectly legal reasons. However, shady stuff does go on, as proven in South Korea where law enforcement has busted a drug cartel that used a specific cryptocurrency for selling their wares.

Big Bust in South Korea

Police were able to track down and arrest nine individuals involved in the narcotics trade. This is pretty big news in the country as it marks the first time that law enforcement arrested a person operating an illicit narcotics website.


South Korea has extremely stringent drug laws and will even go after citizens who use drugs in another country where they may be legal. Back in October, Yoon Se-jin, the head of the Narcotics Crime Investigation Division at Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency, said they would arrest South Koreans who smoked marijuana while in Canada (where it is legal). He said:

Weed smokers will be punished according to the Korean law, even if they did so in countries where smoking marijuana is legal. There won’t be an exception.

The penalty for smoking weed in South Korea is up to five years in prison.

Dark Web Shenanigans

The nine men arrested used a hidden website to peddle their narcotics. All of the men are in their 20s and 30s, and the available information on the site owner is that he has the surname of Shin.

The criminals have been charged with the growth and selling of cannabis as well as homemade hashish. They also smuggled in LSD and MDMA from other countries and sold them. Prosecutors say that the owner of the site also smoked marijuana too (tack on five years!).


What is interesting is that the group used a cryptocurrency called DarkCoin as a means of transaction. This was done in an effort to conceal the identity of the customers, and the group also tried to maintain this anonymity by using encoded messages.

Overall, the small cartel had some success. Police say that the illicit site had 536 members between March and November, and 50 drug sales were successfully brokered. Prosecutors have asked the court to freeze 100 million won ($88,700) that was generated by the drug trafficking.

This shows that using crypto on the Dark Web is no guarantee that the police won’t be able to track you down. There is no word on the potential sentences that the nine men may receive if convicted, but chances are that they will be severe due to South Korea’s stance on narcotics and the fact that this is a historic bust.

Do you think coverage of the Dark Web is overblown? What sentences do you think the men may receive? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Pixabay.


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