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UN Warns Against Internet Drug Dealers - 2002-02-27

The independent agency that implements United Nations drug treaties is warning that young people are facing increasing danger from dealers who reach them via the Internet.

A report just issued by the International Narcotics Control says criminals are taking advantage of the Internet to improve delivery and distribution of illegal drugs.

Board President Hamid Ghodse, says drug dealers have also begun using Internet chat rooms to persuade young people to buy illicit drugs. "The young people may be drawn into drug-related crime by misinformation, by propaganda or brainwashing on the part of unseen individuals whose identity cannot be clarified and who aim is to profit from a broader drug-abusing population," he said.

Mr. Ghodse says the anonymity of the Internet helps mask the danger signals that might deter a young person who met a drug dealer in real life.

He says since there are few ways to limit access to the Internet, this new way of drug dealing poses widespread risks and gives dealers widespread opportunities. For example, the agency says companies in the Netherlands have been using the Internet to sell cannabis seeds and derivatives throughout the world.

Mr. Ghodse says the International Narcotics Control Board has several proposals to combat the Internet trade in illegal drugs. "The board recommends the establishment of an interagency high technology drug units at the national level," he said. "It also recommends the real-time information sharing on the international level between the different countries and agreement on respective jurisdiction on cyber-crime. For example, I'm sure you remember the 'I love you' virus. The perpetrator, which damaged an estimated $10 billion to trade and industry, got away because it was not within the jurisdiction of the United States."

Professor Ghodse says measures should be harmonized internationally to prevent the growth of cyber-havens. He says the Narcotics Control Board is also seeking special assistance for developing countries because they lack the resources to combat Internet drug dealers.