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Darknet marketplaces receive $1.7 billion in crypto; Russia and US lead global traffic

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A new study found that in 2020, darknet markets that offer illegal goods and commodities such as drugs received a total of $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency. Specifically, with regard to value sent to or received from darknet markets last year, United States ranked second in Chainalysis’ 2021 Crypto Crime Report.

Residents based in US sent $115 million to darknet markets and received $64 million. Overall, the total value people in US sent to or received from darknet markets is $179 million.

Meanwhile, Russia ranked first followed by US, Ukraine and China in having sent the most crypto to darknet platforms.

Across markets, US and Western Europe were said to have the most illicit market vendors and Eastern Europe and China lead in money laundering, last year. Users in North America are also one of the biggest darknet market consumers.

Source: Chainalysis

Other than the first four nations, UK, Venezuela, Vietnam, Turkey, India and Germany also ranked in the list compiled in the research. Altogether, the 10 countries sourced $538 million to darknet markets last year. People in these regions received $403 million.

Darknet platforms received most of their funds through p2p crypto marketplaces (about 46% in 2020 versus 30% in 2019) as well as centralized exchanges due to their popularity. 

However, much of the “growth in darknet market activity” in 2020 was attributed to Hydra, reportedly the largest illicit marketplace serving Russian- speaking regions. It accounts for over 75% of darknet revenue worldwide. Due to Hydra, Eastern Europe has one of the highest volumes of crypto transactions associated with criminal activity.

Furthermore, Chainalysis said in a previous report that cryptocurrency-related crimes fell by more than 53% last year. Crypto activity that was connected to crimes was a mere 0.34% of transaction volume or $10 billion worth of transfers. This is still much lower than criminal activity numbers reported in 2019, which represented 2.1% ($21.4 billion) of all cryptocurrency transaction volume. 


Alisha is a full-time journalist at AMBCrypto. Her interests lie in blockchain technology, crypto-crimes, and market developments in Africa and the United States
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