"Etazene, safer than heroin and fentanyl": Non-fentanyl Novel Synthetic Opioid Listings on One Darknet Market
Novel synthetic opioids are fueling the overdose deaths epidemic in North America. Recently, non-fentanyl novel synthetic opioids have emerged in forensic toxicological results. Cryptomarkets have become important platforms of distribution for illicit substances. This article presents the data concerning the availability trends of novel non-fentanyl synthetic opioids listed on one cryptomarket.
Listings from the EmpireMarket cryptomarket "Opiates" section were collected between June 2020 and August 2020. Collected data were processed using eDarkTrends Named Entity Recognition algorithm to identify novel synthetic opioids, and to analyze their availability trends in terms of frequency of listings, available average weights, average prices, quantity sold, and geographic indicators of shipment origin and destination information.
35,196 opioid-related listings were collected through 12 crawling sessions. 17 nonfentanyl novel synthetic opioids were identified in 2.9 % of the collected listings for an average of 9.2 kg of substance available at each data point. 587 items advertised as non-fentanyl novel synthetic opioids were sold on EmpireMarket for a total weight of between 858 g and 2.7 kg during the study period. 45.5 % of these listings were advertised as shipped from China.
Fourteen of the 17 non-fentanyl novel synthetic opioids were identified for the first time on one large cryptomarket suggesting a shift in terms of novel non-fentanyl synthetic opioids availability. This increased heterogeneity of available novel synthetic opioids could reduce the efficiency of existing overdose prevention strategies. Identification of new opioids underpins the value of cryptomarket data for early warning systems of emerging substance use trends.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Volume 225, Fall 2021.
2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Lamy, F. R., Daniulaityte, R., Barratt, M. J., Lokala, U., Sheth, A., & Carlson, R. G. (2021). “Etazene, safer than heroin and fentanyl”: Non-fentanyl novel synthetic opioid listings on one darknet market. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 225, 108790. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108790