5. Changing drug market requires new priorities for Moldova’s law enforcement authorities
The most prominent changes are expansion of online drug markets; constant evolution of number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and challenging control of those substances are some of the most recent challenges facing the law enforcement of the Republic of Moldova.
The presentation will focus on the most up-to-date information about drug market in Moldova with highlighting implications for law enforcement agencies.
‘Telegram’ is the most prominent application used as an ’online marketplace’. It allows communication in groups and its inscription method prevents the identification of the seller and buyer. The buyer pays using - most frequently - cryptocurrencies. Following the transaction, the buyer receives information with GPS coordinates on where to pick up the drug. In addition, ‘Telegram’ online currency exchanges are used to launder cryptocurrencies acquired from illegal sales.
It is estimated that online trade equals between 60 to 70 % of illicit drug demand. In particular, this relates to illicit turnover of synthetic drugs and NPS. The demand for these substances is explained by their affordability due to relatively lower prices. Moreover, limited legal control enables sellers to advertise their offer via online communication platforms.
To cope with new challenges and investigate the phenomenon of ‘online markets’ and new drugs, a special division was established within the Drug Investigation Directorate, and capacities were strengthened through training of staff. Nevertheless, some difficulties remain, such as limited access to technical equipment and technological innovations for data extraction and analysis.