Trends in the availability and type of drugs sold on the internet via cryptomarkets, May 2019 - May 2020

October 2020
TRENDS IN THE AVAILABILITY AND TYPE OF DRUGS SOLD ON THE INTERNET VIA CRYPTOMARKETS, MAY 2019 – MAY 2020 Authors: Rajat Katyal, Nicola Man, Anant Mathur, Raimondo Bruno, Monica J. Barratt and Amy Peacock National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre University of New South Wales Sydney


This bulletin series reports on trends in the availability and type of substances sold on the internet via cryptomarkets over the last 13 months (a new bulletin is released typically every four months). The current bulletin focuses on analysis of listings from 1 May 2019 to 31 May 2020. 

Drug Trends has identified, crawled (or ‘scraped’) , extracted, categorised and analysed drug listings on cryptomarkets on a weekly basis since 1 January 2014, formerly using VBA programming  processes, and since 9 August 2018 using a range of programmed automated processes in Python that operate with minimal manual input. Further background and information regarding the methods are available for download

Key findings

  • From 1 May 2019 to 31 May 2020, 11 cryptomarkets were monitored; five of these markets closed during this period.
  • May 2020 saw a weekly average of 66,099 drug listings, with a 23% increase from 53,670 average weekly listings in April 2020.
  • In comparison to the last year, May 2020 had a 121% increase from 29,897 average weekly listings in May 2019. This reflects a general increase in listings since closure of a major marketplace (Dream Market) in March 2019. 
  • Empire Market had the largest share of drug listings across all markets, hosting 35% of drug listings in the month of May 2020, followed by Dark Bay (27%). 
  • Cannabis (30%), MDMA (13%), cocaine (8.5%), benzodiazepines (7.0%) and meth/amphetamine (6.2%) were the five drugs accounting for the greatest percentage of average listings during the May 2019 to May 2020 period.
  • The market share of cannabis declined from 30% in May 2019 to 25% in May 2020, while the market share of cocaine increased from 7.6% in May 2019 to 9.9% in May 2020.


Read the full bulletin on the NDARC website.