Italian Mafia groups, particularly ‘Ndrangheta, the country’s strongest and most powerful criminal syndicate, are growing more and more attuned to modern tools like cryptocurrency and the deep web, the Italian Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA) said in their latest report covering the first half of 2020.
The anonymity offered by the online markets is particularly valuable to the criminals amids the pandemic as many of the regular smuggling and distribution networks were shut down due to social distancing measures.
“Particular attention should then be paid to the advent of synthetic drugs, the sale of which is also spreading through the “deep web,” a more agile tool to use in the current pandemic situation and, with which it is possible to pay through cryptocurrencies and deliver anonymously,” the report said.
The term deep or dark web refers to the stratum of the internet which is generally inaccessible through the regular search engines like google, yahoo or bing.
The Mafia groups have particularly made use of the crypto currencies Bitcoin and Monero, an unnamed official from the Anti-Mafia Department of the Italian police told the German media outlet Die Zeit.
“All criminal organizations, including those of the Mafia type, have an interest in using these instruments for their business,” he reportedly said.
According to Die Zeit, in several cases, Italian authorities arrested suspects who were using untraceable cards loaded with Bitcoin to make drug purchases.
It’s not just drugs that people turn to the deep web for, authorities found earlier this year. In April, Italian police arrested a 40-years-old man who had attempted to hire a hitman to cause serious injury to his ex-girlfriend.
The man had also attempted to use cryptocurrency to pay off the would-be killer. In a similar case in 2019, a U.S woman paid 12,000 worth of Bitcoin to a deep web entity known as Sicilian Hitmen International to off the wife of an affair partner of hers.
While Sicilian Mafia groups such as Cosa Nostra are well acquainted with the deep web, it’s unlikely they offer assination services through it and the site was simply a scam.