The dark world of internet was revealed for the first time in front of Bengaluru police when three drug peddlers were arrested by them from Kumaraswamy Layout. A regular anti-drug operation turned out to be first-of-its-kind as the trio claimed to have bought the drugs from Agora Market, a darknet marketplace.
Operation was conducted by the Central Crime Branch, which identified the accused as Manikantan, 24, from Bengaluru; Debyendu Roy, 26, from Kolkata; and Jag Saipravesh, 23, from Chennai. They were arrested with weed, hashish, ecstasy (MDMA), and LSD (acid). Charged with the possession and sale of drugs, all of them are unemployed graduates with BSc and BCA degrees.
Accused told that the drugs were sold to the students of reputed engineering colleges in the city, after they bought them from Agora Market. When police searched online for Agora Marketplace, they found a website that allows its users to buy and sell antiques. Later accused showed the police how they accessed Agora using VPN software (Virtual Private Network) and a Tor browser. The VPN software selected for this work didn’t store any logs of the user’s activities, and Tor is famously used for keeping online activities anonymous. The payments of the purchase were made using bitcoin and the delivery was taken through a normal courier.
According to the Bengaluru police, as the tech-savvy generation is more accustomed to using online services providers, more people these days are choosing the online route to buy and distribute drugs anonymously. Although accessing Agora Market might seem difficult, it’s actually simple for anybody with basic knowledge of internet. All they have to do is use a browser and software that can hide their IP address and they will be able to access the blocked sites while maintaining their anonymity.
What is Agora Market?
Launched in 2013, Agora Market is a darknet marketplace operated as a THS (Tor Hidden Service). In September 2014, this website became the largest darknet market surpassing its competitor, Silk Road 2.0. It was able to survive the law enforcement agents operation in November 2014, which resulted in the end of Silk Road 2.0. The trades in Agora are made using a virtual currency called Bitcoin to ensure the anonymity of its users.
What are darknet markets?
Darknet markets are the websites which are accessible only by using special browsers and software that allow anonymity. These markets are designed to bypass government censorship and are black market for illegal porn, drugs, etc.
Police are in the process of compiling a list of websites similar to Agora Market. After that they will approach the ISPs to either monitor or block these websites. This incident has served as an eye-opener for police and they are working on strengthening their cybercrime department for better detection and monitoring of such crimes.