Dark Web Drug Ads Discovered in Online Classified Sections of B.C. News Sites Despite Illegal Drug Warnings
Despite the strict regulations against illegal online drug sales and the execution of many operations to crackdown dealers in these dangerous networks, two online newspapers were found to have displayed ads for illegal drugs sold on the dark web. The Kelowna Capital News and Similkameen Spotlight featured the ads in the classified section of their websites. In attempt to explain the display of such prohibited ads in the popular newspapers, the publisher said that the web filter failed to pick the ads.
According to CBC, the Black Press Media which owns the newspapers removed the ads a few minutes after they were contacted about the incident.
The sections provided the advertisement of furanyl fentanyl. Furanyl fentanyl is a very potent drug that serves as an analog of opioids and fentanyl. The many overdose deaths that come with the consumption of these drugs has made it very dangerous to expose to people, and their advertisements by a respectable news outlet even make it more dangerous. Countries, including U.S., have increased their focus on its interception. The section also advertised ecstasy or psychoactive recreational drugs for $10.
The CBC team took a step to inquire about the incidence. According to the report, an attempt to reach the website’s listed contact number was infertile. They, however, managed to contact the editorial director of the Black Press, Andrew Hotola, who explained what led to the incident. From his response, it seems the team did not notice that illegal drug ads had been placed in their classified sections. Hotola said that the websites had enabled a feature called free posting. Since anything could appear in the classified section because of the free posting feature, they filtered the website to limit the kind of ads that could be displayed there.
However, the website filter, in this case, failed to block the ad for whatever reason. Hotola assured that they have adjusted the websites’ filter to strictly prohibit the display of such illegal drug ads in the classified section of their website in the future. He also clarified that the website made no money from the ads that were displayed on that section of the sites. It is not clear whether the Kelowna authorities are investigating this incident, but it is evident that they have no patience on matters relating to drugs from an unauthorized source.
Why Online Drug Advertisement is a Concern in B.C.
According to a report released by authorities, the British Columbia province alone recorded an unprecedented rise in the number of drug overdose deaths amounting to 1,489 in 2018. This number of incidents was a little higher than the number of related incidents in 2017. The number of drug overdose deaths has been said to be more than homicides and suicides. This situation has forced authorities to take a close look at drugs provided from questionable sources. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer on this note, suggested that there exists the need to provide a safer alternative to obtaining drugs from an unregulated source.
The need to fight illegal drug use made Andy Watson with the B.C. Coroners Service express his concern and issue some advice to the general public. He said that people should choose to buy drugs from a licensed prescriber, but not from any online source which could be unregulated. There are cases where buyers receive drugs different from what they ordered online, and if one is not well informed on drugs by appearance, they may consume something more dangerous.
The fight to eradicate the high influx of illegal drugs mostly from the dark web has led to many arrests. In December last year, the authorities arrested a Canadian staying at Leesburg after pleading guilty to causing overdose deaths with his unlawful distribution of drugs.
The display of the illegal drug ads on the websites’ free posting section in a way affects the effort to make illegal drug trade a thing of the past. The attempt to fight against illicit drugs is also observed from the RCMP caution issued in 2018 on the importation of drugs from online into the country.