Today, purchasing illegal substances on the internet is as easy as ordering your favorite book on Amazon, and at the same time, this is nothing like it.
For example:

On the one hand, it’s mind-blowing how this process transformed from deals made in the shadows of places with questionable reputations into a business with marketing tools, advertising, sales and discounts, multiple delivery and payment options, reviews, ratings, etc. However, because of the illicit nature of the products, this slope is still quite slippery and can be treacherous if not approached with due diligence.

IRL vs URL: Why Go Digital

With the constant technological development, it might be hard to believe that you can still buy drugs on the street. Essentially, it is not an outdated way of handling your deals. Some people might even consider it less intricate and more anonymous.

Indeed, with this approach, you leave no digital trails like dialogs, transactions, order history, etc. Yet, a traditional vis-à-vis bargain does not imply that you remain completely anonymous. First, seeing each other’s faces makes you both recognizable. Second, your seller might not be cautious enough, so you end up recorded by cameras, etc.

In addition, there are plenty of aspects that might not seem significant at the first glance, but they can actually make a difference:

  • It helps to be in your own territory. Your home is your safe space. Therefore, you feel more confident ordering online because you can take your time investigating potential vendors and choosing products (you might even order different goods from different stores). You can see photos, read the description, check ratings, and study reviews.

Personal meetings entail a lot of anxiety and doubts. It will be harder for you to back down if you change your mind, are not satisfied with the product, or sense something fishy. Plus, in case you get scammed, it might not only be detrimental to your budget, you can also get hurt.

  • There is a wider selection of means to protect yourself when buying online. Essentially, cash and (almost) instant delivery seem tempting when compared to confusing procedures, encryption, and cryptocurrency. Still, all these complications are invented for a reason. PGP keys are essential to protect your privacy, cryptocurrency is needed to preserve the anonymity of all the parties involved, and the escrow system (both traditional & multisig) is designed to increase your chances of getting a refund if something goes wrong.

Do You Need a Middleman?

So, what options do you have when you choose to do business online? You can go to one of the numerous darknet marketplaces or strike deals directly with sellers (for example, via private messaging apps with enhanced privacy capabilities like Wickr, Signal, or Telegram). Of course, each of these ways has its benefits and shortcomings that you need to evaluate carefully to make a reasonable choice.

Darknet marketsIndividual dealers
Product selectionHave a wider product range. You can always change the vendor or try a new product.Might offer goods that are forbidden on the marketplaces (e.g., fentanyl). Yet, you need to be cautious because those products are usually banned for a reason and can be dangerous to take.
PriceNaturally, markets have to gain profit. Thus, the price will be higher to compensate for the commissions, vendor fees, etc. But they provide important services, such as solving disputes, in return.Of course, the prices are way more lucrative when you pay directly to your vendors.
Communication & convenienceAlthough communication through a website lacks speed and comfort, markets compensate for it with other features. For instance, if your seller ghosts you, you can turn to customer service for help.Direct communication enormously speeds up the negotiation process and makes the deals more straightforward.
Security & reliabilityWhen it comes to marketplaces, vendors here are at least somewhat accountable for their actions. They have to comply with the platform’s rules & harm reduction policy. They have to be respectful. Moreover, here you are more likely to get a refund if something is not right with your order.Dealers tend to have a longer life expectancy than the darknet markets because they don’t have to cope with ongoing investigations, DDoS attacks, etc.

Overall, eliminating the middleman and buying directly from vendors is a suitable option when:

  1. You have a time-tested experience of purchasing from them. Let’s say, you placed several orders with escrow (classic or multisig), then switched to Finalize Early deals, and everything went smoothly. Now you can start communicating outside the platform. Plus, it does not mean you need to abandon the marketplace, you can purchase from different sellers via different channels.
  2. They were recommended to you by someone reliable. It can be your close friend or your hairdresser. The only thing that matters is that you trust this person.

Safety Net

In the virtual world, there are so many nets like the ‘internet‘ or ‘darknet‘, but what you really need for your shopping activity is a safety net. Thus, how can you craft one to ensure that you land safely in case something goes not as planned?

You ought to take care of three aspects: finances, health, and privacy. The first and the most pivotal step on this journey is to educate yourself and prepare for the worst-case scenarios:

  • Study Dread (d/OpSec, d/DarkNetMarkets, d/DarknetMarketsNoobs) or Reddit if you prefer to stay in the clearnet. Here you can learn a lot about cryptocurrency payments, privacy protection, various marketplaces and vendors, or harm reduction.
  • Do not underestimate the importance of PGP encryption and ‘no-logs’ VPN services. Use them when it is appropriate.
  • If you need to open a dark web URL, use the Tor browser.
  • Never mention anything that can be traced back to your real identity in your personal information, credentials, dialogs, etc.
  • Keep your activity as a buyer separated from your everyday life (this applies to messaging apps as well).
  • Store your credentials and other crucial info away from prying eyes.
  • Make your first order small to minimize the loss in case something goes wrong. You can slowly increase the amount. However, keep in mind that your orders have to be small enough to fly under the radars of postal service and border security.
  • Try to find all the available data on the drugs you are about to consume. What dose is safe? Can it be mixed with other drugs? Answers to these questions can save your life. For instance, pay a visit to the Abacus market drug search engine and harm reduction platform Aegis.
  • Of course, always use sterile equipment and test your drugs if you have an opportunity.
  • Don’t do drugs alone, and carry naloxone for emergencies. If for some reason, you cannot invite your friends over or join a support group in your area, you can find someone to watch you online or simply call and check up on you. You can use a newly launched The Brave app or call one of the overdose prevention hotlines, such as the Canadian National Overdose Response Service (NORS). There you can find volunteers who will keep an eye on you and call medical service or the emergency contact of your choice.
  • If something about products you used didn’t feel right, report it to the corresponding vendors. They might change suppliers or offer you something different.

Final Thoughts

The aftermath of all this is pretty simple: buying drugs is never safe. Period. It can jeopardize your well-being, regardless of whether it concerns financial, physical, or psychological aspects.

With the recent technological advancements, it might seem like a walk in the park, but parks can be very dangerous too. Still, this doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the perks of technological progress. Naturally, buying drugs online will make your life significantly more convenient and enjoyable. You just have to approach the process with the caution and responsibility it deserves.