The aim of the activity is to train police investigators to detect, identify and collect intelligence and evidence necessary to prosecute all criminal activities, including illicit trafficking of NPS on the Darknet or conducted using virtual currencies.
According to the UNODC, the NPS market over the last years has become a policy challenge and a major international concern. A growing interplay between these new drugs and traditional illicit drug markets is being observed. By July 2016, the emergence of NPS had been reported from 201 countries and territories. Trends on the synthetic drug market evolve quickly each year.
Worryingly, there has been a shift from face-to-face purchase to also acquiring drugs through hidden, and often unmonitored, parts of the World Wide Web. Almost any kind of illegal drug can be purchased online and delivered by mail without the buyer making direct contact with the drug dealer.
While the Internet continues to be used as a means of drug trafficking and illicit trade in precursor chemicals, use of the so-called "Darknet" has been growing. The Darknet, a part of the Internet accessible only with special software designed to hide and conceal users identity, is a home for online hidden marketplaces offering a large range of illegal items, such as drugs, weapons, counterfeit currency, stolen credit card details, forged documents and unlicensed pharmaceuticals, as well as criminal services, from illicit gambling to murders for hire. Transactions in these marketplaces typically use bitcoin (or other virtual cryptocurrency) for payment and employ secure communications between buyers and vendors.
These technologies create many challenges for law enforcement in identifying and locating the criminals who seek to hide in the anonymity it provides. This phenomenon is becoming increasingly widespread and it requires police officers who investigate conventional crimes to build up necessary skills to deal with technological aspects of such crimes.
This will be a five-day course organized for about 20 law enforcement investigators from Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, specializing in cases of drug trafficking linked to the use of Darknet and/or virtual currencies. Thus, the activity does not target cybercrime investigators, IT or digital forensics specialists.
The material for the training is developed by the group of law enforcement officers from Austria, Belgium and Netherlands within a framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) project.