Police send warning letters to ‘dark web’ drug buyers

Police have sent hundreds of warning letters to addresses that have received online orders of recreational and counterfeit drugs.

The rise of the dark web  – a hidden part of the internet often used as a criminal marketplace – has led to a huge increase in the amount of illegal drugs being sent via letters and packages in the post.

The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) has seized more than £500,000 worth of illicit substances or material from dark web vendors over the last 18 months, with several arrests also made.

ERSOU brings together seven east of England police forces – including Norfolk and Suffolk – to fight serious and organised crime.

Investigations have highlighted the sale of substances such as prescription medicine, recreational drugs, and stupefying substances – more commonly known as ‘date rape’ drugs.

The dark web has led to a huge increase in the amount of illegal drugs being sent in the post.

Specialist cyber officers using covert tactics to monitor the dark web identified hundreds of addresses used for online drug orders.

ERSOU has now sent warning letters warning recipients of the health risks of purchasing medicine and recreational substances online.

Detective Inspector Graham Paul said: “It’s vital that people understand that the items for sale on the dark web are not safe. Many of them are illegal and dangerous, and the substances often aren’t even the item they’re advertised to be.

“The implications of taking substances purchased from the dark web could be significant – ‘prescription’ medicine found online is often of poor quality and may not contain the ingredients normally found in legitimate medication, which clearly presents a very real health risk.

“I would also add that the dark web is not as anonymous as people think and those that use it for illicit activity could find themselves part of one of our investigations.”

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