THE drugs on sale in Scotland’s booming internet market are of the same class as those on our streets.

But the people buying and selling them, say police experts, are not.

In just a few short years social media such as Facebook and Snapchat have lit up with untraceable adverts for speed or diazepam, ups or downs, for just £1 a pill.

But the people buying them, reckons veteran narcotics market watcher Kenny Simpson, are far from the stereotype of an “addict” or a “junkie”. And the people pushing pills often also fail to live up to the image of a dealer.

READ MORE: Student reveals life on "smart drugs" and warns of misuse amongst colleagues

To buy and sell drugs today – especially pharmaceuticals – all you need is wi-fi, a bank account, a laptop and a postbox. That probably does not apply to, for example, chaotic injectors.

“Your stereotypical homeless drug user does not have a fixed address, a credit card or a computer,” explains Mr Simpson. “It is a different class of individual going online.”

This is Scotland’s middle-class drug market. And it is huge, reckons Mr Simpson, an expert court witness and co-ordinator of Police Scotland’s Statement of Opinion unit.

This new internet business features unlicensed medicines such as generic “Viagras”, dangerous diet pills and prescription “smart” drugs for the student scene.

But, less obviously, it also offers more controlled substances, and not least the staple of Scotland’s street scene: diazepam, the sedative some users call “blues”and others refer to by its old brand name, Valium.

Mr Simpson does not mince his words when referring to the category of drugs diazepam belongs to and its impact on Scotland.

“The benzodiazepine market,” he says matter-of-factly, “is the most underestimated drug trend in the history of man.

“It has featured in drug-related deaths. But was a class C controlled drug so it did not push anyone’s buttons in terms of performance indicators, targets.”

READ MORe: Universities must act as use of drugs to deal with stress grows, says academic

Blues have long been popular among chaotic users. So too, increasingly, are painkillers like pregabalin or gabapentin, which are about to be classified, like diazepam, as a Class C drug. That means possession could be an offence. And it means regulators and police will be able to take more effective action against those selling the product online and in the streets.

Such changes please law enforcement figures, because it gives their investigations more legal footing and helps tighten up controls in hospitals and pharmacies.

But they admit that there are chunks of the online narcotics market they are unsighted on.

Mr Simpson explains: “Some of the most successful cocaine dealers I know are below the radar. It’s not like you have to join a club and get recognised as a drug dealer. There are middle class people who hit hard times and decide they are going to make money.

“If I am a drug dealer all I do is set up a social media account, source my drugs and sell them.

“There is a profit to be made in every stage in the chain. You can buy a kilo of mephedrone for £2,700. You knock six kilos out of that and sell it for £30,000.

“They are not the stereotypical drug dealer because it is all anonymous. It is done online and by communication on social media.”

READ MORE: Student reveals life on "smart drugs" and warns of misuse amongst colleagues

Such dealers and their customers rarely come to the attention of the authorities. The trick, police sources stress, is not to sell to people who fit the old image of an addict. And not to get too big.

Internet entrepreneurs buying their raw materials in small and frequent packages through he post – perhaps from China or India – rarely get noticed. Nor do those selling in small consignments.

Industrial scale shipments would involve going in to business with real gangsters. Mr Simpson adds: “Then I have a relationship with an org crime group, which I don’t want. We will not agree about something and I will be pushing up daisies.

“If I can go online all I need is a a safe address and I can get stuff delivered to. That person just has to sign for a package. Questions. Just say it is washing power. There is no footprint in their house or on their computer to say they ordered it. At every stage there are barriers put in to the evidence gathering.”

Drugs, of course, have to be delivered somewhere. And this has created another new criminal market: the mail-drop flat or house.

Social and private landlords are being warned that their empty properties are ideal for such trade.

One crime gang is known to have corrupted concierges at a Glasgow housing association to get narcotics mailed to void flats in a high rise.

This – and the postal service – is now the front line of what used to be called the war on drugs.