The Dark Web

  • January 13, 2019
  • Erin Pancer, senior prosecutor with the Ministry of the Attorney General, Guns and Gangs Unit

The views expressed in the following are personal and are not meant to bind the Ministry of the Attorney General in any way.

The possession of handguns is a terrible affliction on our community. Guns maim, guns kill, guns are a plague that has led to an inordinate and destructive level of violence on our streets. Over the last several years, Toronto has been faced with extreme gun violence. 2018 marked the year with the highest number of shootings that our city has ever seen. In 2005, the “year of the gun”, there were 359 shootings; 2018 registered 424. Further, of the 96 homicides that occurred in 2018, 51 were deaths as a result of a firearm.

Gun violence is at an all-time high and while many of us know the traditional means by which criminals are able to obtain firearms (importing across the border, domestic gun trafficking and break-ins), many of us aren’t aware that criminals have been using the dark web, bitcoin and creative shipping techniques to bring illicit guns into our country and more specifically our city.

The emergence of the dark web has posed new challenges for law enforcement officers seeking to curb the influx of illegal firearms into Canada. But what is the dark net? How are criminals able to purchase firearms online?  How are they able to ship them into our country with such ease? This quick piece will seek to answer these questions.