Silk Road Vendors Indicted for Online Drug Trafficking

Three major Silk Road drug vendors have been indicted on counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances across the United States and Australia.

The latest triumph for the US Drug Enforcement Agency involves the arrest and conviction of three high-profile Silk Road drug vendors.

The three, Julian Villa-Gomez Lemus, Fadhle Muqbel Saeed, and Alfonso Bojorquez were arraigned in a Florida court where they pleaded guilty of drug distribution using darknet markets such as Silk Road.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

31-year-old Lemus was the last of the three to be convicted within the same week for near-similar crimes that involved the sale of illicit substances.

Although they were all pinned for a catalogue of slightly dissimilar charges, the trio was ultimately linked to a similar charge, and that was the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

It was a good week for the DEA, who spearheaded the investigations with the help of the now highly-resourceful USPIS, and the state of California where the three Silk Road drug vendors resided.

The Trio was Involved in a Drug Distribution Conspiracy

Each of the three Silk Road drug vendors was indicted on two counts, the first one being the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances such as marijuana, hydrocodone, and also methamphetamine.

The apparent associates were also charged with aiding and abetting each other and other drug vendors and criminals that remain unknown to the court.

Initially charged with the conspiracy to distribute only the three aforementioned substances, a subsequent announcement from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida revealed that the group was also heavily involved in the sale and distribution of steroids and cocaine as well.

The announcement revealed that the three were part of a drug trade that spread across the United States and some parts of Australia.

The Three Silk Road Drug Vendors Considered “Heavy Hitters” in the Digital Drug Trade

Drug trade that spread across the United States and some parts of Australia.

Based on the DEA’s testimony before the federal jury in Orlando, Florida, the trio was not a small-scale drug cartel.

They ran a massive drug empire using Silk Road as just one of their platforms, and, according to the DEA, had carried out a total of 1,300 transactions up to the point of arrest.

Purported to have started their operations back in October 2012, the trio had amassed a total of $1.9 million in their years of operation.

In addition to the upcoming sentences for the three, they will also have to forfeit the proceeds of their drug operation, which may be equivalent to the above-stated amount.

Questions Raised Over the Indictment of the Three Silk Road Drug Vendors

The indictment has sparked a lot of interest on Reddit (/r/DarkNetMarkets), with a lot of questions revolving around Fadhle Muqbel Saeed.

Arguably, most of the controversy is centered on why this particular Silk Road drug vendor, despite his numerous aliases on different darknet markets, had gone unnoticed by law enforcement for so long.

Consequently, the general consensus was that the government should have made the arrests a lot earlier considering the scale of the operation ran by the three convicts.

As a result, it took a substantial amount of time to go through all these three men’s associated cases.

For instance, Saeed’s profile came attached to three different monikers from three different darknet markets.

He went by the nicknames “darkexpresso,” “Damien Darko,” and “bonappetit” on his various accounts.

He was also ranked among the top 11% of drug vendors with 100% positive reviews on Silk Road, and had conducted an upwards of 300 transactions on Silk Road in the short span of a year.

Sentences to be Delivered Shortly

The six-count indictment holds a maximum sentence of up to 20 years for each of the men in a federal prison.

The men will be awaiting their respective sentences, which will be delivered on the March 23rd, 2017 according to Attorney A.

Lee Bentley the Third. The charges for all three men involved both their state of residence, California, and Florida where the hearing has been taking place.

The USPIS has been credited for being instrumental in the DEA’s investigation, which was set into motion on the May 11th, 2016 after being signed off on by the necessary authorities.

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Silk Road 3.0 – Back Online and Open For Business

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Silk Road 3 has come back from the grave! The third iteration of the famous brand darknet market has surprised everyone and returned from the ashes and is open for business.

It appears that Silk Road brand has been on a bumpy road in its journey to deliver a free and open marketplace – every marketplace on the Deep Web trying to replicate the success of the original SR doesn’t last. The last that was thought to suffer from that fate was Silk Road 3.0 earlier this year. Round the end of January.

>> Click here to find the updated Silk Road 3 Guide <<

It went down reportedly on account of some maintenance issues, after being DDoS attacked on several occasions. Of course, this stirred a lot of emotions and speculations among the users, and some have even gone so far as to claim the Silk Road 3.0 performed an exit scam on its users. Well, can’t you blame them – as it is so often the case.

Anyway, apparently people that thought that it was just a plain exit scam couldn’t be more wrong, because believe it or not – Silk Road 3.0 has been re-launched and running since Saturday, May 7th. Personally, I believe this must be a precedent of some sorts because – no Silk Road that had ever gone down for that long and for any reason, has ever come back online!

Another interesting fact is that Silk Road 3.0 and Crypto Market are both run by the same admins. Even earlier than when Silk Road 3.0 went down, Crypto Market went down for security upgrades as well and came back again. And, in the last couple of months – Crypto Market has become one of the most secure markets on the Deep Web.

If judging by the market’s admins, we are to expect an even more secure SR 3.0; perhaps even the safest marketplace on the entire Deep Web! Allegedly, admins have lost a ton of coins, from lost revenue when they took the website down, but the only conclusion we could draw from this whole affair is that they apparently value their users’ security more than quick cash. This is a very good indication of the intentions of the admins.

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Silk Road Here to Stay
According to the recent, quite dramatic, events on the Deep Web, the Silk Road brand is still far from dead. We have been witnesses of many Silk Roads coming and going; yet it is still THE most popular market name on the Darknet.

Just as a reminder, the original Silk Road was created by Ross Ulbricht, Dread Pirate Roberts, who took drug related ‘business’ to a whole new level and gave wings to hundreds of Darknet Markets that appeared soon after his own.

Ulbricht was a man of principle (or so people say) – he didn’t allow child pornography or weapons on his market, and the users appreciated this. Perhaps this is the reason it is so well loved.
After his arrest and downfall of the original market, many have tried to re-create the success he had achieved using the name Silk Road; so much, so it became a brand. We saw SR 2.0 (created and run by the rest of Ulbricht’s team), Silk Road Reloaded, etc.

It just goes to show that it will be impossible to kill the Silkroad brand; it has become an idea, a community, a following; and not just a mere website or marketplace everyone is nostalgic about.
We have already gotten used to SR setting standards on the Deep Web; and since this must be the very first silkroad market that came back from the dead – we believe it’s safe to say that we are to expect new levels in standards regarding users’ safety from this Silk Road 3.0.

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User of Original Silk Road, Now Busted By Cops

Cannabis-Flower-1There have been several high profile and technical busts, targeting users, dealers, and administrators of some websites operating on the dark web. In one such recent case, the German police tracked down a person who had used the original Silk Road marketplace for buying cannabis, a few grams at a time.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Gwern Branwen, an independent researcher, reportedly said that the authorities recently fined this person from Germany, who ordered cannabis seventeen times on the Silk Road and another darknet market, more than 3,000 euros. In one of the Reddit posts, he noted that he was directly contacted by the buyer to inform the same. Gwern even uploaded a letter addressed to the apparent user.

Motherboard pointed out that as the names, as well as other information contained in the letter written in March 2016 by the law authorities, were redacted, they could not contact the recipient of the letter. However, the letter indicated that the customer made 17 purchases – quantity varied from 1.5 grams to 7.4 grams of cannabis during the period January 2013 to October 2013.

Law enforcement authorities have punished many dark web users who purchased drugs from darknet markets like the Silk Road in the past. They have even tracked down people who bought weapons, poisons, and drugs such as methamphetamine or MDMA from websites operating on the dark web. Additionally, a few cases involving marijuana purchases have also been reported.

However, what makes this particular case notable is the fact that law enforcement is still keen on tracking down buyers years after the Silk Road was closed down by the federal agents in 2013. According to reports, the customer was identified after the German police busted a seller of cannabis who had maintained a record of all of his customers. The customer reportedly told Branwen that he always ensured that his address was encrypted whenever he provided it to vendors.

Based on this information, Branwen believes that the police might have sifted through the records available on the server used by the Silk Road to find out more about the purchases made by the customer as he used only one username consistently. However, it is not entirely clear as to how the authorities have managed to find one of the orders he placed on the Outlaw Market, which continues to operate on the dark web. The letter, however, noted that the communications between him and the Silk Road have been used.

reddit_log-100011890-large (3)Branwen also pointed out in the Reddit post that it is not sure as to how a buyer could get into any trouble or be prosecuted if he/she is not charged with possession of illegal drugs or packages addressed to the person has not been intercepted. He observed that the answer to this question seemed to be in the positive, at least in this case, in Germany.

Ultimately, this particular case goes on to show that even those people who have only used darknet markets briefly should be worried because law enforcement authorities could eventually track them down.

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Nucleus Vanished, Crypto Market Is One Of The Best Option

 

nucleusWhat’s happened to Nucleus? That is the question on everyone’s lips at the moment. The site has now been down for over a week and with many users screaming “exit scam!”, talk has now turned to which are the best darknet markets to migrate to. While plenty of people are now recommending Dream Market – due mainly to the affiliate bonuses that users can enjoy when new people sign up using their link – we recommend Crypto Market or as one of the best current options available for vendors and customers alike.

It feels like every other day another dark web market disappears. Wasn’t it just a few months ago we were lamenting the loss of Abraxas? Unfortunately, as is the common case, one of the populist favorites has yet again disappeared – and this time it was Nucleus, the second biggest of the darknet markets. With the days since the outage growing ever longer, it’s now time for Nucleus users to turn to other options.

What’s the best option for me?

While many will simply hop on over to AlphaBay, there are another options: Crypto Market (while Silk Road 3.0 is down for maintenance). Although Crypto Market isn’t the largest darknet market around, it is growing insanely fast, it has a dedicated following and is most definitely fully up and online, and has a surprisingly vast range of goods available. The market is a “clean” market, where child porn, terrorism, murder, violence, firearms, weapons, poisons, chemical weapons, etc. are not allowed for trade. Interestingly, Crypto Market also prohibits sales into and out of Russia, as well as Russian users. So, for Russian potential Crypto Market users, we recommend RAMP instead.

A little bit more about Crypto Market

Crypto Market is by the same markers as Silk Road 3.0 and sprung up in February of 2015, but has been down for a couple of months for security upgrades, making it a little over a year old. On the market you will find tens of thousands of listings, the majority of them being for various drugs. The biggest amount of listings are found in the Cannabis and eBooks categories, the latter being where you can find titles such as “Carding – The Complete Tutorial,” “Uncle fester – Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture 8th Ed.,” and the classic “Anarchist Cookbook 4.”

In fact, on Crypto Market, you will find a great many items that are not simply drug related, although there is plenty of that too – “5 Yellow Warner Bros 200mg+ XTC MDMA”, anyone?

Other features

crypto-tor-marketplace-logoThe Crypto Market features a useful news feed, where various vendors can post up special offers, new stock etc.,so if you’re not sure what you’re after you can have a browse around to see if anything new or interesting takes your fancy. Some good deals go up, and every now and then a vendor will have a fire sale.

There’s also a sales feed, where specific items that are on sale are advertised, along with their old prices so you can see how much of a bargain you’re actually going to get. The Crypto Market Q&A section is great for all levels of users, too.

The site isn’t quite as user friendly as Nucleus, but if you’ve been around the darknet markets long enough, you will know that UI doesn’t mean too much. There’s also a forum that is shared with Silk Road 3.0. New users to the forum will have to post five times before gaining access to the full forum. The Crypto Market/ Silk Road 3.0 forum contains interesting info about potential scams, good users to shop with and all sorts of help and bits and pieces.

As with all darknet marketplaces, joining up for this market, and conducting business on it, involves using heightened security measures to ensure your identity is protected and your Bitcoins stay safe.

Crypto Market will be one marketplace to watch in the aftermath of the Nucleus Market outage. If you’re looking for alternative trading places, why not sign up, have a look around and get yourself familiar with the place. You might like to try Crypto Market in combination with a few other markets, just to spread yourself around. After all, your best bet when using these markets is to not put all your interests in the one marketplace, should they suddenly (ala Nucleus) simply vanish without a word.

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Man Arrested For Selling Drugs On Silk Road And Other Darknet Markets

 

download (2)David Ryan Burchard from Merced in California was arrested for distributing cocaine and marijuana all over the US through darknet markets such as the Silk Road, AlphaBay, Abraxas and Agora. The man who is 38 years old operated under the nickname Caliconnect. According to the Federal authorities’ estimate, the total value of all the deals made by him is $1.43 million.

The investigation against Caliconnect, which involved several people and agencies, started in March last year. Matthew Larsen, an HSI agent, launched an investigation against Burchard after he sold bitcoins worth millions of dollars to a digital currency exchanger who did not have a license.

Authorities carried out surveillance on his vehicle and residence through GPS, which revealed mailing of parcels by Burchard from a post office. Jessica Burger, a Postal Inspector, identified Burchard. HSI agents also observed Burchard’s attempt to mail parcels to a person in North Carolina. They retrieved the parcel from the bin and sent it to North Carolina Postal Inspectors.

Burger who had obtained a warrant for searching the seized parcel went to Fresno HSI office and with Larsen opened the seized parcel and found marijuana in it. In the meantime, a Postal Inspector from North Carolina reported that the addresses written on the parcels were bogus and that the parcels consisted of a controlled substance. A search of the parcels after obtaining a warrant showed that they contained marijuana.

HSI agents also learned that Burchard operated under the moniker Caliconnect and they searched the Internet for more information about Caliconnect. They came across Reddit posts and found out the names of people who had ordered marijuana from him. A review of the Silk Road vendor list given by HSI Headquarters helped Larsen to locate Caliconnect’s name on the list.

On the Silk Road, Larsen determined, Caliconnect was the eighteenth largest vendor. His sales volume was $1,250,248.65. Larsen also came across a vendor by name the_real_caliconnect on Agora, who claimed to be a vendor at Silk Road, Silk Road 2.0 and the Black-Market Reloaded as well. He also sold marijuana. A search of the PGP key of the_real_Caliconnect on Grams showed that he operated under the name Caliconnect4life on AlphaBay.

In the meanwhile, Larsen determined, through postal tracking numbers, that the post offices used for sending the parcels were all located near to Burchard’s home. He also learned through DEA that a vendor with username Caliconnect2 bought phentermine from the Silk Road marketplace. A review revealed 977 transactions carried out by Caliconnect on the Silk Road marketplace and HSI determined that he sold 10.5 grams of cocaine and 704 pounds of marijuana.

Subsequently, Larsen along with another HSI investigator obtained surveillance photos from Raley’s Supermarket, which helped people ship products, to get pictures of Burchard as he booked parcels from this supermarket. Larsen followed David Burchard to Raley’s Supermarket and reviewed response received from AccountNow as regards a Prepaid Visa card. The information from AccountNow matched with the data Larsen had collected on Burchard.

Intern Mann, Daniel, a detective in Fresno Police Department, and Larsen contacted Caliconnect4life using username Megiddo to buy half a pound of marijuana (OG Crack) for $900. The packet was to be delivered at Buffalo in New York. Caliconnect4life informed Megiddo through a private message as to when the delivery can be expected. Larsen received the packet at the specified address.

Following this, Larsen obtained a warrant to search Burchard’s residence. It was executed by the IRS, Larsen, the USPIS, other HSI agents, California Highway Patrol and the Police Department in Merced. They found Burchard, his wife, and 3 children at home. They also seized various computers, storage devices and other items that are normally associated with narcotics. They also found clothing with Caliconnect label on it.

Though Burchard denied selling marijuana, he did admit that his clothing brand’s name was Caliconnect. Further, computer forensics revealed incriminating evidence about his dealings in the darknet markets.

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OpenBazaar Unlikely To Be The Next Silk Road

Do you want to buy R2D2 t-shirts, a dog or a cat, or Rick and Morty’s imagery products? Well, these are the things you are likely to find on OpenBazaar. After a very long gestation period, the beta version of the peer-to-peer digital mall has been made available for testing purposes. The full launch is expected to happen later this month.

What OpenBazaar proposes is a distributed marketplace without a central authority for holding accounts, use of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and some rules that are non-existent as of now. This has led to assumptions that OpenBazaar would be the next-generation of difficult-to-trace darknet markets like the Silk Road. The Silk Road was infamously known as a platform for selling illicit drugs. OpenBazaar may still be in its initial stages, but as of now it resembles an anarchist eBay on acid, according to Forbes.

What Is OpenBazaar

OpenBazaar, an open source project, creates a network for decentralized online peer-to-peer commerce using Bitcoin. It does not charge any fees and it cannot be censored.

OpenBazaar
Typically, online commerce uses centralized services, employs restrictive policies and charges fees for both listing and selling products. The forms of payment accepted by them cost money to buyers and sellers. Further, personal information is required to be provided. Buyers and sellers are generally not allowed to exchange products and services with each other because companies and governments can censor entire trade categories.

OpenBazaar redefines online commerce by putting power back in the hands of users. OpenBazaar connects buyers and sellers directly. There will be no middlemen and, therefore, there will be no fees, no censoring of transactions and you can choose as to what personal information you want to reveal.

What Benefits Does OpenBazaar Offer

One of the key benefits offered by OpenBazaar is anonymous trading. Encryption helps to prevent simple snooping. The peer-to-peer setup prevents governments from targeting a centralized body with the help of a technical taskforce or subpoena. It may not be impossible to bring the network crumbling down, but it would be considerably harder to do that. Further, the chat feature offered by OpenBazaar will be end-to-end encrypted to prevent mass government surveillance.

Why OpenBazaar Would Not Operate Like the Silk Road

All said and done, there are a few reasons as to why OpenBazaar is not likely to be like the Silk Road. The first and foremost reason is that people who have the technical capability can view the IP addresses of users. By pulling out data from the OpenBazaar API, a crawler that is capable of mapping out information about all of the participants in the network can be built. If the police have a warrant, they can quickly identify and locate individuals who are not masking their IP address by using a VPN or Tor. In fact, OpenBazaar warns people during registration that users would not be anonymous by default and that IP addresses are public even though most of the communications between parties is encrypted.

OpenBazaar Sites

The second key aspect is the credentials of the chief purveyors of OpenBazaar. They are Brian Hoffman, who worked as a lead associate for cybersecurity at Booz Allen Hamilton, old employer of Edward Snowden; Sam Patterson, a Bitcoin specialist; and Dr. Washington Sanchez, an academic. Their goal is to create a platform that is free from government control so that companies are in a position to make more money by getting rid of the middleman. Bitcoin helps to do away with middlemen, credit card providers and banks, who take a cut from each of the transactions. Even the darknet markets like the Silk Road are not free from the involvement of middlemen. However, in the case of OpenBazaar, the dealings are directly between the buyers and sellers.

Finally, the purveyors are not likely to earn anything by creating the OpenBazaar network. That is why they have founded OB1, which aims at bringing big names to the network. They will partner with these companies for setting up certain stores. Additionally, OB1 will also provide merchant support services like vetting legitimate businesses, arbitration, etc., for a charge. According to Patterson, hundreds of individuals and businesses have requested that they be notified when OpenBazaar goes live. He also added that peer-to-peer commerce is not going to be popular overnight on the Internet and that they are in this for the long haul.

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Drugs From Darknet Markets Are Higher In Purity, Report Says

>> Click here to find the AlphaBay Market Guide <<

A new report reveals that drugs purchased from the darknet markets like Silk Road may be of higher purity than those bought from street dealers. In Chapter 6 of the report titled “The Internet and Drug Markets” under section “Quality and Harm Reduction,” it is noted that the quality of the drugs purchased from darknet markets tended to be higher.

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According to an FBI statement released in 2013, samples of drugs purchased from Silk Road have typically shown higher purity levels as advertised in the site when subjected to laboratory testing. On the other hand, many of the drug users who had purchased ecstasy from street dealers earlier on have found that the pills contained inferior PMA (para-Methoxyamphetamine) or piperazines instead of MDMA. Similarly, those who bought LSD found out that they were ingesting 25i, a toxicity which is not usually found in LSD. Users reported few, if at all any, substitutions when they purchased drugs from Silk Road.

The report pointed out that in the case of 120 samples out of 129 online drug purchases (93 per cent), only psychoactive substances were detected. The mean purity level of cocaine samples was slightly more than 70 percent compared to the average purity level of 38 percent found in street samples that were seized in 2013 in the UK.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction or the EMCDDA report states that users of the darknet markets such as Silk Road felt they were getting value for the money they spent. The report also noted that the customer feedback model that worked well on sites e-commerce sites such as eBay was also effective in the case of online black markets. While sellers who offered products as described enjoyed repeat purchases, regular users of online black markets were sophisticated enough to spot faked or padded feedback.


Darknet Markets Change Online Drug Trade

DarknetAccording to the report, darknet markets like the Silk Road have been instrumental in significantly changing the way in which drugs are traded. While relationships between consumers and vendors are driven by trust and professionalism, user feedback systems and resolution models employed by them provide the necessary support.

The report also noted that darknet markets are also instrumental in reducing harm as their structure allows for the creation of virtual communities for sharing knowledge, information and experiences. Forums that are linked to these cryptomarkets provide user advice, product as well as transaction reviews and “trip reports.”

Posts in forums, feedback from users and control exercised by site administrators enable users to remain well informed as regards the quality of the products offered on sites like the Silk Road. Many vendors even state in these forums that their products have been subjected to lab tests and offer information as regards the purity.

While users can also leave their opinions as regards the quality of the products they purchased and the experiences they had with vendors, many vendors frequently communicate directly with the users and announce the availability of a new batch of a specific substance, provide advice on safe use, openly discuss quality – purity and adulterants. This system may be considered to be imperfect, but it does offer more reliable information to users than that which the traditional street drug dealers provide. Therefore, darknet markets like the Silk Road often provide some advantages as far as both sellers and buyers are concerned when compared with the street drug distribution system.

The report also provides an analysis of approximately 12,000 transactions carried on Silk Road and notes that wholesale level activity (transactions that are worth over $1,000) contributed to the generation of about 25 percent of the total revenue. Though such transactions provided evidence that a significant number of the Silk Road customers were drug dealers who were sourcing stock for their clients, the report noted that online drug sales is unlikely to be an alternative to traditional street dealings.

Additionally, the report points out that online drug sales represents only a tiny portion of the total global drug trade, but says that the cryptomarkets have the capacity to cut down the harm caused by traditional drug markets in some ways. This, potentially, boils down to the very fact that the quality of drugs obtained from online black markets like Silk Road might be better compared to those purchased from street dealers, which are often contaminated with harmful substances.

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Technologies Brought By Darknet Market Like Silk Road

>> Click here to find the AlphaBay Market Guide <<

According to a report released by the European drugs agency, drug dealers are becoming tech savvy as online drug trade zooms.

Research carried out by EMCDDA – European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction – into online drug trade showed that darknet marketplaces like Silk Road ensure a safer environment for both the dealers and users of illicit substances.

The darknet marketplaces make use of feedback mechanisms that are similar to the ones used by sites like eBay. This helps customers to hold dealers accountable for the services provided by them. Secondly, remote access helps to eliminate violence, which is part and parcel of drug trade.

As such, it is important that online drug dealers develop excellent customer service and communication skills instead of muscle power.

The EMCDDA report published last Thursday lists out most recent evidence provided by experts on darknet marketplaces which became known to the public through Silk Road, which started operations in 2011. Silk Road continued its operations till the end of 2013 when the FBI shut down the site.

According to researchers, darknet markets or cryptomarkets like Silk Road became successful because they brought four technologies together. These are the Bitcoins (virtual currency or crypto currency), Tor (encrypted Internet protocol), Escrow and systems for customer feedback. This gave a great deal of confidence to buyers and sellers.

Additionally, the online black markets like Silk Road often sent products by mail. This helped to eliminate personal encounters between customers and dealers. Further, the innovations in the darknet marketplaces have led to the involvement of a different set of people in selling drugs. Therefore, the skills required to successfully operate such markets have also changed.

The findings of the researchers also include the following:

The purity of the drugs available in darknet markets is higher compared to those sold by street vendors.

Darknet markets are virtual brokers. Therefore, it is easy for them to link not only upper- and mid- as well as retail-level sellers and consumers.

People who use the darknet marketplaces are more sophisticated and tend to use drugs for recreational purposes.

One-fourth of the sales in darknet marketplaces are for wholesale quantities, costing as much as $1,000. This suggests that retail dealers are sourcing stock through these markets.

The next generation of darknet marketplaces would operate in a decentralized manner (peer-to-peer networks). This would make it more difficult for the police to catch them.

Judith Aldridge, a criminologist and one among the 30 specialists who co-authored the report, said that the darknet markets are being increasingly used for buying drugs and that this can potentially change the way global drug markets operate. However, she also pointed out that they have their own limitations as they rely on postal systems for delivering drugs. As a result, darknet markets may not be a viable option for large-scale drug importation and supply.

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Additionally, she said that lifespan of darknet marketplaces like Silk Road tends to be limited, despite the growth in their popularity, because of mistrust amongst buyers and sellers, scams and law enforcement activities.

According to Steve Rollles, analyst from the pro-reform group Transform Drug Policy Foundation, the creation of online black markets like the Silk Road indicates the adaptability of drug dealers. He also noted that at best enforcement can only displace markets. They cannot eradicate them.

The European commissioner for citizenship, migration and home affairs – Dimitris Avramopoulos – opined that the darknet market is just evolving and, therefore, efforts should be on to eliminate it. Dimitris also called for efforts to stop the abuse of the internet by those involved in drug trafficking.

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Major Players Of Silk Road

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

The latest update from the 2013 collapse of the Silk Road dark web market sees a 54-yr. old Canadian man by the name of Roger Thomas Clark detained in a Thai jail awaiting extradition to the United States. This most recent development follows the bringing-to-justice arc of one of the most interesting cyber-crime stories of our time.

Today we’ll take a look back, in touching on the Silk Road story, and the brains behind the world’s one-time largest drug market – and see where they are now, too.

Silk Road

Silk Road shot to fame in June of 2011 after a Gawker published an article covering a very basic account of how the online market operated. The site had, in fact, been operating for six months already, coming online in January of the same year.

drug-943759_1920The website offered a place online where you could buy and sell anything you pleased – including illegal products and services – all without compromising your identity. The site was accessed through the anonymity browser Tor, and goods exchanges were purchased via the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

The site was in operation up until October of 2013, when the website originator was arrested. A new Silk Road 2.0 sprung up in its place run by many of the same team as the original marketplace, but that site was subsequently shut down and its operator too arrested.

According to tracked articles from various news sites there have been at least 138 arrests made in association with Silk Road. This includes buyers, sellers, staff and operators. Various other darknet markets such as Utopia, Agora, Evolution and Sheep have seen a similar pattern of law enforcement targeting, although not to the same degree (yet) as Silk Road.

Dread Pirate Roberts

The notorious “kingpin” behind the Silk Road marketplace, Ross Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, currently sits patiently in a jail cell plotting his next appeal.

Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco in October 2013, following a huge undercover investigation that was aimed squarely are dismantling the online marketplace. His trial in January 2014 took almost a month to complete, with a jury finding him guilty on all charges, subsequently rewarding him with life in jail. The multiple charges included money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and computer hacking.

But as far as underworld figures go, he’s not exactly the person you’d think him to be. He’s a whip smart young guy with a passion for knowledge – studying physics and chemical engineering, ending up in research science. From there he then switched paths, focusing on libertarianism and free economic theory.

The Silk Road idea was dreamed up to escape the boundaries that exist in real-world transactions. He coded up the initial website based on his own libertarianism ideals and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Variety Jones

Variety Jones has been the latest man to fall from grace in the collapse of Silk Road. Roger Thomas Clark has been indicted by the US Department of Justice, accused of similar charges as Ulbricht, including narcotics trafficking and conspiracy to aid and abet hacking. He also faces up to life in jail for his alleged offences.

Clark has been living a low-key life on the island of Koh Chang up until this point.

Clark allegedly met Ulbricht through the site, when, as Variety Jones, he became a trusted marijuana seed seller. He was also very bright, and was quick to inform Ulbricht of a possible security flaw in the website, which sparked their initial friendship.

From here, Ulbricht regularly chatted to Clark, who in turn acted as a sort of mentor for the young man with the flourishing business. He ended up performing many functions across the business as the pair’s friendship deepened, and at several points in time there were payments given as compensation for services rendered for the business.

It appears that Clark had been supplying marijuana seeds since before the time of Silk Road’s launch and was involved in IT, although not much more information is yet available on his background.

Smedley

A third key player in the Silk Road story goes by the name of Smedley. Smedley came on board the Silk Road project in January of 2012, when the popularity of the online marketplace was sky-rocketing. It appeared that Smedley was a brilliant coder, tackling technical problems all over the site.

Logs from the site servers show a dream environment envisaged by Dread Pirate Roberts, Variety Jones, and Smedley. This environment was structured to turn Silk Road into a bundled services provider for the deep web, much like Google is on the clear net. Smedley had already half-completed some of the elements necessary to turn all their dreams into realities.

We don’t yet know – and may never know – who Smedley, in fact, is.

We can be quite sure though, that law enforcement will continue to target those people responsible for starting and running darknet markets – and that the penalties are staggeringly steep.

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Two Silk Road Drug Importers Sentenced To Jail

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

Two men from South Devon have been sentenced for selling illegal drugs and using the darknet to acquire them. The 2 men are Jamie McAllister and Nathan Wilson. McAllister, 35, claims to be a businessman specializing in making beds while Wilson, 30, is a council worker. Investigations showed that 3,800 pounds had been transferred through Western Union in exchange for 2300g of cannabis and 74.6g of heroin. These drugs have a street value of 14,000 pounds in UK. The packages containing drugs from Silkroad were intercepted by border officials. When McAllister was questioned by the local police, he claimed he was a businessman and that he purchased saris and sarongs from the Far East.

Despite McAllister’s claim to be a legitimate businessman, investigations showed that he had accessed Silkroad, a darknet market, through a secure email system and a Firefox browser. This is the information given by Brian Fitzherbert, the prosecutor. McAllister was using his laptop in communicating with the suppliers in India and Thailand. He later followed up communication on telephone. Two out of three of the packages sent were addressed to McAllister while one was addressed to Wilson. The intercepted drugs were found in false bottoms of handbags.

Jamie McAllister and Nathan Wilson

McAllister and Wilson were brought before the Exeter Crown Court. They pleaded guilty for importing heroin and cannabis from Silkroad. The Recorder QC, James Waddington, made it clear how serious the offenses by McAllister and Wilson were. He was also satisfied that there was no alternative to custodial sentences. He stated their offenses and showed that McAllister took the leading role in communication with the suppliers on Silkroad. Although Wilson did not play the leading role, his role was also important because without it, the transaction on Silkroad would not take place. McAllister was sentenced to 3 years in prison while Wilson was sentence to 2 years and 8 months in prison.

Wilson’s representative, Kevin Hopper, justified his client’s actions by saying he suffered from anxiety and depression and that he felt taken advantage of. He also tried clearing Wilson’s name by making it clear that it was not his idea to import the drugs. All he did was give his details when transferring money via Western Union and the drugs were sent to his address. Kevin Hopper described his client as a hard working person who worked for the local authority.

McAllister’s representative, Martin Salloway, described his client as one having good work ethic and a good businessman. The court had been informed of McAllister’s previous charges for burglary and possession of drugs.

Silkroad

Silkroad, a darknet market infamous for selling illegal drugs that worked in a similar way to eBay but its access was restricted to those who have the special software required to access the site. Some of the categories of drugs sold on Silkroad include stimulants, prescription, ecstasy, cannabis and steroids among many others. Apart from drugs, Silkroad also sold fake driver’s licenses. It restricted the sale of various items including child pornography, weapons and child pornography.

Ross William Ulbricht
Silkroad was first formed in 2011, operated as a Tor hidden service and conducted transactions using bitcoins to prevent tracing information of buyers and sellers. The FBI acquired information about the illegal activities taking place in the site and they shut it down in 2013. Ross William Ulbricht was arrested in October 2013 under the charges of being the owner of Silkroad. In May 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to life imprisonment without any possibility of parole.

After the closure of Silkroad, Silkroad 2.0 emerged and was trading in the darknet market again. It was operated by former administrators of the original Silkroad site that was shut down. Encrypted copies of the site’s source code were distributed as a precaution just in case of another shutdown. The alleged owner of Silkroad 2.0 was also arrested and the site was shut down.

Despite the shutdown of Silkroad, other darknet markets continue to emerge. In an investigation that was carried out about the darknet markets, it was discovered that not everyone who buys from there wants to do so. Some may need prescription medications which are expensive in local pharmacies hence they turn to darknet markets where they are cheaper.

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