There is a large market for arms around the world. While the legal market makes up a very significant portion of the arms trade the illegal arms trade market is very active as well. The illegal arms trade market is estimated to generate between 130 million dollars to 255 million dollars annually. Most of these sales come from smaller weapons like guns opposed to large weapons like fighter jets or tanks. In many instances arms trafficking is associated with other illegal activities like drug trafficking. While many people believe arms trafficking is carried out only by organized crime groups this is untrue as many governments have been implicated in undercover illicit trading.
One newer problem with the illegal arms trade is that it has gone digital, making it harder for law enforcement to find and prosecute those involved. Many dealers of illegal arms have begun to use the dark web for trading in an effort to evade authorities. One of the biggest problems with the arms trade utilizing the dark web is that it makes it significantly more likely to anonymously arms criminals and terrorist organizations. Many weapons being sold on the dark web originate from the United States. Although the U.S. is the home of many dark web weapons it is European countries that generate the most revenue on dark web weapons sales. Many sales made on the dark web are not massive deals like the ones seen in the conventional arms trade. They are not sufficient to fully arm a terrorist group or country. Despite this, they are still dangerous, it is not only guns being sold on the dark web but also explosives and information on how to build bombs.
Another problem associated with illicit arms sales is the affect they can have in developing areas. Increasing the number of weapons in a region can also lead to higher levels of conflict and violence. This can be very problematic for a developing region or country. As conflict increases investment goes down and development aid is often disrupted. It is also difficult for countries experiencing conflict to work towards and meet their development goals. In this way the illegal arms trade can slow development.
As the digital world gets bigger and bigger it will be interesting to see how the illegal arms trade develops moving forward.