Chinese Underworld Sells Drugs and Fake IDs on Dark Web

By John Lavitt 11/21/14

From the mainland to Hong Kong, Chinese traders are taking full advantage of crypto-markets.

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Making inroads into so-called crypto-markets, Chinese underworld traders are making money by selling hard drugs, fake identities, and other illicit products.

On the dark web, where sites are not reachable by search engines, identities masked by the anonymity of Tor and untraceable bitcoins are used in illegal marketplaces like the former Silk Road. Recently, the South China Morning Post discovered the prevalence of several Chinese underworld traders in crypto-markets.

Operating from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, the crypto-market traders offer an array of contraband goods, including Colombian cocaine, Chinese-made methamphetamine, Chinese passports and Hong Kong university diplomas. Selling like traditional advertisers and manufacturers of Chinese goods, the offers promise that no matter what the product, it is deliverable right to the doorstep of any customer in the world.

In online exchanges, the Tor-protected customers can buy bitcoins with real-world currency. Once bolstered with the bitcoins, customers use the digital currency to buy products on crypto-markets such as Pandora, Alpaca, or the former Silk Road. Sellers convert the bitcoin earnings into real currency without leaving a paper trail like traditional bank transfers.

At least nine traders on the dark web’s markets said they sell narcotics to the rest of the world out of the Chinese mainland. Beyond the cocaine and meth, their drug offerings include marijuana from the Yunnan province, synthetic stimulants, and Ecstasy pills. A fake Hong Kong ID card or driver's license scan sells for less than $15 on the crypto-market Evolution.

A Chinese trader identified as Dr. Zheng offers free global shipping and charges twenty dollars for a gram of "bath salt" narcotics. In a message to his customers, Dr. Zheng wrote, “If you want to resell in your region please get in touch.”

Among the thousands of listings on the crypto-markets, hundreds upon hundreds come from China. By entering the dark web, the Chinese underground traders hope to avoid prosecution. Still, police in Beijing claim to have detained some 30,000 people involved in cybercrimes in a concerted campaign.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.