Foto CRYPTODRUG: A new era: illicit drug trade on cryptomarkets. The involvement of Belgian buyers and vendors




CRYPTODRUG: A new era: illicit drug trade on cryptomarkets. The involvement of Belgian buyers and vendors

Developments in technology may not only transform aspects of our daily life, but they may also impact the way in how drug supply and demand are organised. Although the trade of illicit drugs on the internet has only fairly recently come to the attention of academics and the general public, the online transaction of drugs is not new. The first transaction, involving cannabis, is assumed to have taken place in the 1970ies. More recent, however, is the rise of drug transactions on the encrypted darknet. A darknet market place, also referred to as a cryptomarket, could be defined as an ‘‘online forum where goods and services are exchanged between parties who use digital encryption to conceal their identities”.
To date, no studies on cryptomarkets exist targeting Belgian buyers and vendors. We do not possess scientific evidence to understand the size, scope, proportion and motives of the Belgian population sourcing illicit drugs from cryptomarkets. Therefore, we propose a short-term multidisciplinary project in which we will shed a first yet necessary light on Belgian users and vendors on cryptomarkets to fill this blind spot.

The overall objective of CRYPTODRUG is to gain a first insight in cryptomarkets from a Belgian perspective, targeting both Belgian vendors and buyers, and to provide an evidence base to this phenomenon, making scientifically underpinned (policy) interventions possible.
This overall objective could be subdivided in four sub-objectives:

  1. Gaining insight in the size, scope and profile of Belgian vendors on cryptomarkets
  2. Exploring the role of cryptomarkets in individual drug-using careers of Belgian buyers
  3. Understanding the experiences, rationale and motives of Belgian buyers to buy illicit drugs from cryptomarkets.
  4. Draft recommendations for science, policy and practice based on the CRYPTODRUG results


Tina Van Havere

Projectcoördinator (extern)

Charlotte Colman (UGent)


15/12/2018 - 15/03/2020


Universiteit Gent

Programma financier

Onderaanneming BELSPO

Externe organisaties

Universiteit Gent, Faculteit Recht en Criminologie, Vakgroep Criminologie en Strafrecht en Sociaal Recht
Université catholique de Louvain, Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la déviance et la pénalité
Universiteit Gent, Faculteit Ingenieurswetenschappen en Architectuur