Published April 3, 2024 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

A Qualitative Analysis of Illicit Arms Trafficking on Darknet Marketplaces

  • 1. ROR icon Cyprus University of Technology
  • 2. ROR icon University of Piraeus
  • 3. European Security and Defence College


During the last decade, the dark web has become the playground for criminal and underground activities, such as marketplaces of drugs and guns, as well as illegal content sharing. The dark web is one of the top crime environments presented in EUROPOL’s Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2021. This paper provides a qualitative study on the darknet marketplaces of illegal arms trafficking. For this purpose, we implemented a crawler based on the ACHE Python library to collect hidden web pages (onion services) on the Tor network. We gathered data from ten marketplaces recommended by dark web search engines – Ahmia, Deep Search, and Onion Land Search. We provide a first report of the overall landscape of illicit arms trafficking, discussing the range of weapons such as military drones, explosives, and other related products, together with the payment and shipping methods provided by the vendors. The findings verify previous reports from reputable institutions (United Nations and RAND Europe). Most of these illicit marketplaces are easily accessible to the average user; they are well-organized with a large variety of firearms and also provide extensive customer support.


Please cite the ARES 2023 version of this paper: 


AQualitative Analysis of Illicit Arms Trafficking on Darknet Marketplaces.pdf

Additional details


SECONDO – a Security ECONomics service platform for smart security investments and cyber insurance pricing in the beyonD 2020 netwOrking era 823997
European Commission
INCOGNITO – IdeNtity verifiCatiOn with privacy-preservinG credeNtIals for anonymous access To Online services 824015
European Commission