New Dark Web Markets Claim Association with Criminal Cartels
Several new marketplaces have appeared on the dark web, claiming to be the dedicated online portals for notorious criminal cartels from Mexico.
Those markets offer drugs and hitman services just like they would in the real world and attempt to add legitimacy to their listed goods by alleging to be backed by “experienced” actors in their respective fields.
The emergence of these markets was spotted by DarkOwl analysts, who identified a trend, shifting from large markets that drew law enforcement attention to smaller, less publicized sites.
The most notable examples presented in the DarkOwl report include a mix of new and older markets that became prominent due to circumstantial market conditions changes.
Some of the sites mentioned below were recently refreshed with new features and a user-friendly interface, trying to draw an audience interested in illicit offerings.
- Cartel de Sinaloa (C.D.S. Market) – Market supposedly linked to “Cártel de Sinaloa,” a Mexico-based crime syndicate. Sells drugs, chemicals, weapons, malware, money laundering, and hitman services, and also has an escrow payments system.
- Cartel Gulf Texas – Affiliated to Sinaloa gangs, this market promises drug shipping from Laredo, Texas, to anywhere in the world via USPS.
- Los Urabenos – Linked to “Clan del Golfo,” a paramilitary group in Colombia, this market sells pure (90%+) cocaine and hitman services. The vendors on this site claim to have completed 750 orders with 400 clients.
- Cartel Jalisco Nuevo Generation (CJNG) – Associated with the same-name gang in Mexico, the market boasts of being “the most trusted bulk cocaine seller in the world.” It supports dead drops via sea or air cargo and accepts Bitcoin payments.
- Ausline – A market focusing on Australian and New Zealand audiences and established by a prominent darknet vendor who allegedly has direct links to a Colombian cocaine flakes producer named the “Scorpion Cartel.”
Are any of those real?
Anything can be faked on the darknet, so all of the above marketplaces could easily be fakes created to increase their ‘authenticity,’ while scamming people and stealing their money for orders that are never fulfilled.
Also, there have been multiple occasions of hitman services offered by law enforcement agencies on the dark web as part of honeypot operations to catch interested buyers.
Many of these markets have been around since 2020 but have seen a sudden spike in activity lately due to the closure of large decentralized drug-focused markets where these alleged cartel site operators claimed to be successful vendors.
Regardless of the authenticity of those novel or recently-awoken cartel markets, their new status on the dark web indicates a shift in the dynamics of the space, with larger markets closing down and being replaced by smaller, niche shops.