The ‘Ndrangheta, Cryptocurrencies and the Dark Web

The Italian Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA) report that the ‘Ndrangheta is becoming increasingly tech-savvy, using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Monero to transact anonymously on the dark web.

“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,”

DIA Anti-Mafia Report

The dark web has become a popular platform for different types of criminality. Drug purchases are an obvious example, but there have also been cases where people ordered hits online.

Ordering Hits Online

In April 2021, for example, the Italian police arrested a 40-year-old man who tried to hire a hitman on the dark web to seriously injure his ex-girlfriend. According to police reports the accused is an IT expert from Lombardia. He commissioned the attack via an assassination website on the dark web. The price was 10,000 euros (nearly US$12,000), to be paid in Bitcoin. Fortunately another European police force intercepted the transaction and notified the Italian police. The Italians acted immediately to ensure the woman came to no harm and identified the suspect.

The DIA report also said that the ’Ndrangheta use cryptocurrencies to trade with Latin American cartels. The transactions are usually related to transnational cocaine smuggling. For exampel the Calabrian mafia uses crypto to easily transfer money to the Colombian cartels.

“The mafia seems to be directing its attention to cybercrime and the possibilities of the dark web, which are both hard to monitor, to direct large sums of financial resources to completely illegal ends,” 

DIA Anti-Mafia report

The Italian police are investing in training and recruiting experts to conduct internet investigations. They are also working to improve collaboration with the country’s finance police and national police forces.

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