The success rate of online drug transactions in time of world pandemic

Background and Aims

In the months following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA; 2020) observed an increased use of cryptomarkets, which led them to question whether cryptomarkets constituted a more convenient channel via which to distribute illicit drugs without any in-person contact. However, as more countries’ borders closed, the likelihood is that cryptomarkets have been negatively impacted. We aim to measure and understand the success rate of transactions on cryptomarkets during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, through recourse to self-reported data that documents the outcome of cryptomarket transactions.


To collect self-reported data on cryptomarket transactions, we launched a platform where participants can enter information about their prior activities on cryptomarkets. The sample consists of 591 valid self-reports that were received between January 1st, 2020 and August 21st, 2020.


The number of unsuccessful transactions increased concurrently with the global spread of the pandemic. Both the international and inter-continental nature of the transactions and the severity of the crisis in the vendor’s country are significantly associated with delivery failure.


Drug cryptomarkets may have been disrupted due to the pandemic. The results lead to two opposing explanations for unsuccessful transactions. One explanation for the lower success rate is the inability of drug dealers to deliver on past promises that were made in good faith, while the second points towards opportunistic and abusive behaviour by drug dealers.


Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 30 avril 2022 à 8 h 41 min.