‘Perth’s Silk Road Telegram’ shows how drugs are sold online under the sight of WA Police

Perth’s tech-savvy drug dealers have openly peddled illicit substances through an elaborate network of encrypted messaging app channels, right under the noses of WA Police.

The Sunday Times can reveal that a number of linked channels on the Telegram messaging app are being used to connect dealers to tens of thousands of eager buyers.

The largest of the channels has over 35,000 members

Once a transaction has taken place, buyers and resellers must then “guarantee” each other in a dedicated channel whether the illicit transaction went smoothly.

Camera iconPrescription and illicit deadly drugs are sold. Credit: provided

The chains are run by a group called “The Circuit” and offer a wide range of illegal drugs, including MDMA, cocaine and even baked goods containing cannabis.

Potent and potentially deadly prescription drugs such as Oxycontin and Tramadol are also readily available.

However, methamphetamine is prohibited.

Dealers have compared it to the anonymous US-based black market website Silk Road, which the FBI says facilitated the sale of $1 billion worth of illegal goods in the early 2010s.

“You can basically get any medicine you could want,” a source at The Circuit network said.

“You pretty much have a menu, different types, sizes, quality. . . this is the Perth Silk Road.

“Before, you had to send a message to your dealer. If they have stock, you would go get them. Otherwise, you get nothing.

“(But with The Circuit) you have three to five hundred dealerships across Perth at your fingertips at all times.”

If you use online marketplaces, you are very likely to be monitored

Once an agreement has taken place, the buyer and reseller post a certificate for each other in a dedicated channel controlled by The Circuit.

Searching for usernames inside the chain apparently lists the number of vouchers they have collected to verify their buyer status and prove they are not an undercover cop or someone who could scam a deal.

“You need 20 or 30 vouchers to even talk to me,” the source said.

Deadly prescription and illicit drugs are sold to the public through The Circuit's Telegram network
Camera iconSome of the drugs offered on the network. Credit: Provided

“I know who I’m dealing with won’t be a cop or they won’t cheat (steal) me when we meet.

“If you have that many good ones, there’s no way you’re going to be a cop, so there’s no anxiety about it.”

Despite a sense of law enforcement impunity within The Circuit network, WA Police Serious and Organized Crime Division Superintendent John Hutchison said his officers actively target drug markets on line.

He warned dealers and buyers that they could be dealing with undercover agents when setting up trades through The Circuit’s Telegram pages.

“WA Police Force actively targets the entire illicit drug environment, which includes illicit online markets and the dark web,” Superintendent Hutchison told The Sunday Times.

“Many people use online illicit markets under the false belief that they can remain anonymous throughout the process, but that is not the case. The police monitor these sites to gather evidence of illegal activity and, if necessary, take action.

“If you use online marketplaces, you are highly likely to be under police surveillance or dealing with an undercover cop, and there are serious consequences for those who buy and sell drugs in these environments. “

The Sunday Times saw drug dealers offering their illicit products in almost every suburb of Perth, in the city’s affluent western suburbs, Baldivis in the south and even in the CBD.

Supt.  det.  John Hutchison.
Camera iconSupt. det. John Hutchison. Credit: Ross Swanborough/western australia

They also offer door-to-door drop-off services for their customers, if buyers are willing to pay extra.

To stand out among the endless offers of narcotics, dealers regularly publish elaborate descriptions of their drugs in their advertisements.

“Beautifully grown and cured yet sticky buds, each with their own amazing terpene and packed with icy trichomes,” a Dianella cannabis seller wrote in their ad on Saturday. “Check all the boxes.”

Dealers often include graphics on photos of their narcotics to indicate the price of their drugs, determined by size and quality.

A gram of cannabis can be purchased for as little as $30, while users can expect to pay up to $950 for 3.5 grams of MDMA.

The shocking discovery comes after the FBI and the Australian Federal Police created the encrypted messaging app AN0M to secretly monitor criminal syndicates around the world.

Communications captured by AN0M police led to hundreds of arrests across the country and dozens in WA, bringing down bikers and other major underworld figures.

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