The dark web is a new phenomenon in which there is no centralized authority or governing body to ensure that products are not hacked, hacked back and so on.
A search engine, a marketplace and a social network can all exist side by side in the shadow of one another, but they do not have the same degree of power.
The market for dark web items, including drugs, is huge and is estimated to be worth around $US40bn.
It is also growing.
There are a number of dark web markets offering products and services that are not available in mainstream retail outlets.
The US government is also actively investigating the dark market for drugs.
A recent report by the US Senate Judiciary Committee revealed that drug dealers were able to circumvent state and federal laws, evade detection, and hide their tracks, allowing them to sell drugs at extremely low prices, without the risk of prosecution or arrest.
“There is no way that the government can be trusted to protect these markets and keep them free from the government’s influence,” Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, said during a hearing last month.
“If a vendor wants to sell narcotics online, they are not subject to federal law.
That’s the definition of an illegal vendor.”
The Senate report, which was published by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, also said that law enforcement officials were using sophisticated technology to identify buyers and sellers of dark net drugs, including Silk Road, the dark net marketplace that was seized by US authorities.
Drug markets in China and Russia are also thriving, with millions of people purchasing drugs online in exchange for bitcoin, a digital currency that has soared in popularity in recent months.
The United States has also been using surveillance and law enforcement to target the dark economy, with the National Security Agency using drones and undercover agents to conduct surveillance on online drug sales.
Many in the dark-web economy, such as the Silk Road marketplace, are not criminals themselves, but rather traders who are willing to sell illicit goods for high profits.
One recent example is the Black Market Reloaded marketplace.
In 2016, the FBI seized $US1.8bn worth of drugs in China, including MDMA, ecstasy, and LSD.
The marketplace, which is run by an Australian citizen, was raided by the Chinese authorities last year.
Other dark web sites have also come under scrutiny.
The FBI seized Silk Road in January 2017 after discovering that the marketplace offered “drugs and other illicit items”, including MDMA and marijuana, that were smuggled out of the US.
A similar case was recently brought against Silk Road by the Australian government, but it is believed that the drugs sold on the site were not real.