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We`ve been chatting with dark web users for a month and learned that many drug addicts frequently enter dark web forums and markets not only to buy drugs, but also to buy equipment for drug manufacturing at home. Until this day we didn’t know that something like this existed, so we were shocked to learn that you can actually cook an illicit substance using common ingredients, such as household chemicals that you can find in the garage. Moreover, after learning some science, you can even become a vendor and sell your manufactured goods.
We asked some users to share where they buy equipment and ingredients for preparing drugs at home. Around 75% of the correspondents named a site called Breaking Bad that focuses on selling such products. We entered the site undercover, using a Tor anonymous browser, which is the only way you can get to the illicit forum. Among the drugs, we found a really interesting category of items – chemical reagents that are used in drug manufacturing. One of the rarest components sold on the dark web is organic precursors.
What is a precursor?
In the realm of chemistry, a precursor is a substance that engages in a chemical reaction to yield another compound. They are needed to manufacture illicit drugs. They are not prohibited completely, but they are considered as controlled substances, which is why it’s much easier for drug producers to order substances and cook drugs at home instead of buying them.
For instance, acetic anhydride, a precursor necessary for converting morphine into heroin, also has various legitimate applications. It is utilized in the production of cellulose acetate, which is an essential component of photographic film and other coated materials. Additionally, acetic anhydride is used in the synthesis of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) and serves as a wood preservative.
Where Are They Being Sold?
As we mentioned before, most independent drug manufacturers purchase precursors and other chemicals from Breaking Bad. We found out that one of the reasons for this is the ability to watch tutorials that teach drug production at the same site. Moreover, the users frequently chat with each other about production of the substances at the forum. As we learned, some of them even become vendors and continue the cycle of drug addiction.