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Diversification of tobacco traffickers on cryptomarkets

Abstract

Specialization in criminal activities generally refers to offenders that repeat the same or similar offenses over time. While some research has found support for offender specialization, most empirical studies suggest that most offenders engage in various forms of offenses during their criminal trajectory and fail to specialize in a specific offense. The aim of this paper is to build on past research to understand the specialization of offenders involved in the online illicit trade of tobacco. To do so, we characterize the offenders involved in the online illicit trade of tobacco, the products (other than tobacco) that these vendors traffic as well as the differences between the offenders involved in the online illicit trade of tobacco and those involved only in other types of illicit trades. We find that a small share of vendors on cryptomarkets are involved in the illicit trade of tobacco. These vendors trade cigarettes, cigars and rolling tobacco generating monthly revenues of $8952 from the sales of these items. These revenues pale in comparison to these vendors’ revenues from non-tobacco product listings ($22,177) and the monthly revenues generated by other cryptomarkets vendors (over $37 million US dollars). This paper confirms the diversification of offenders involved in online illicit markets and extends past research by quantifying the degree to which these offenders are diversified.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    As some vendors sell products for $0, it is indeed possible to make sales but generate no revenues.

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Munksgaard, R., Décary-Hétu, D., Mousseau, V. et al. Diversification of tobacco traffickers on cryptomarkets. Trends Organ Crim (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12117-019-09375-6

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Keywords

  • Illicit markets
  • Cryptomarkets
  • Illicit trade of tobacco
  • Diversification