It’s one of the frequently asked questions about life in the drug culture: why do dealers push products that they know (or strongly suspect) could be potentially fatal? Don’t they realize they’re just killing off their own customer base?

Apparently some are beginning to. On the so-called ‘dark web’– those websites that can only be accessed with specially designed software that protects the identity of both seller and consumer– a movement exists to ban the sale or transfer of substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil.

Dark web dealers voluntarily ban deadly fentanyl

As the article suggests, this is less from concern for the consumer than it is about the risk of heightened attention from the forces of the law. Drug dealers at the higher levels of the marketplace are much like other business people in their natural aversion to bad publicity. Police and prosecutors around the world are already frustrated by their lack of access to this part of the Internet,  and those who traffic there do not want to incite them to more aggressive action.

It reminds me of the a situation that sometimes develops along the US- Mexico border. On the American side, things remain peaceful, and rates of violent crime are low. On the Mexican side, however, a few miles away, gangs may war openly for a share of the drug traffic, resulting in a frightening number of fatalities. Why the difference? because the US side is where the customers live, and nobody wants to spur a crackdown by law enforcement that could hurt future profits. Simple economic self-interest.

I doubt whether the change on the Internet will filter down to street level. Business on the corners moves too fast. I recall the explanation I got from former dealer in Baltimore. You sell what you have when you have it, to anybody who can pay, he told me. You need to make today’s quota first, if you want to be around to sell drugs tomorrow.

Pretty straightforward, if you ask me. And it’s clear why the drug business tends to attract people with antisocial behavior patterns. It’s an ideal line of work for an aggressive person seeking immediate rewards who isn’t afraid to intimidate others, including with violence, to get them.