NSW Police arrest 21 in online drug crackdown

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NSW Police arrest 21 in online drug crackdown

Technology posing "unique challenge" to law enforcement.

NSW police officers have arrested 21 people as part of an investigation into the supply of illict drugs online, which the agency has admitted poses a unique challenge for law enforcement.

The state force today said the individuals had been arrested under a two-month operation and were charged with 45 drug-related offences in total.

The operation aims to crack down on the online supply of illicit drugs via classified advertising websites, social media platforms and the ‘dark web.’

Police said they had seized drugs including ice, cannabis, LSD, cocaine and MDMA worth around $32,000. They also said they found thousands of dollars in stolen case and property.

Redfern detective chief inspector Stuart Bell said technology had changed the way drugs are sold and bought and therefore how police respond.

“Technology has allowed drug suppliers to shift their focus out of public view and away from particular geographic areas; enabling them to engage with users in the online environment,” Bell said in a statement.

“This criminal enterprise represents a unique challenge for law enforcement in their ability to infiltrate these spaces and detect drug transactions."

The world's largest drug marketplace, Silk Road, was shut down by US federal authorities in 2013, but reappeared as Silk Road 2.0 just weeks later.

The operator of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, was found guilty of masterminding a scheme that enabled around US$200 million of anonymous online drug sales using bitcoins in February this year.

US authorities said they had shut down the Silk Road 2.0 predecessor in late 2014.

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