On February 3rd, 47-year old Kevin Campbell of Chicago pleaded guilty in a U.S. District Court in Seattle to charges for peddling illicit drugs on Silkroad, including heroin and prescription medications that led to the death of a 27-year old man living in Bellevue.
The Bellevue man died from an overdose after using heroin coupled with prescription drugs obtained from the Silkroad marketplace. Campbell is a drug treatment worker who decided to make some extra cash by selling heroin and prescription drugs on Silkroad, the infamous dark web marketplace. However, his get rich quick scheme turned into a tragedy following a customer’s overdose in August 2013.
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.
According to case record, the emergency crew received a distress call from a Bellevue home, where they found Jordan Mettee lying unconscious in his bedroom.
He was rushed to the hospital and was later pronounced dead. In Mettee’s home, the authorities found the Silkroad website open on his computer screen, which provided substantial evidence of where he had sourced the drugs and who the provider was.
A detailed exchange on the website between the vendor and the deceased revealed that Campbell was the Silkroad vendor who had provided the drugs.
Further investigation revealed that Campbell was an active drug dealer who supplied illicit substances, such as prescription drugs and heroin, to clients across the country through Silkroad’s platform in exchange for bitcoin.
The drugs were delivered in altered DVD cases, thus avoiding easy detection. An altered DVD case was found near the deceased body, and Campbell’s fingerprints were found on the case.
A search warrant was issued to search the Campbell’s residence, where concrete evidence of his drug trafficking activities was obtained.
Aside from the drugs themselves, other incriminating evidence was discovered, such as shipping and packaging equipment, measuring scales and devices, and empty DVD cases.
In a press release, U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes mentioned that this case is both a tragedy and an outrage for allowing a drug trafficker to work at a drug treatment center, a place where drug addicts came to seek help.
Hayes further stressed that the heroin sold by the defendant through Silkroad killed a customer, and will request the court to give a sentence that reflects that fact.
Sale of Drugs on the Rise Even After Closure of SilkRoad
Launched in 2011, Silkroad was one of the first modern darknet marketplaces that allowed users to access illegal drugs securely and anonymously without detection.
The original Silkroad site was shut down in 2013 with the arrest of its founder. More than 13,000 drug listings had been discovered from Silkroad.
Since then, the number of websites similar to Silkroad that sell drugs and other illicit merchandise has exponentially grown, with their preferred currency being bitcoin.
Campbell’s case is not the first of its kind. In May 2014, Jenna White and her co-defendant Steven Sadler pleaded guilty to using the Silkroad marketplace to sell and distribute illegal substances.
Annette Hayes, the acting U.S Attorney, stated that Sadler had sold close to $1,000,000 USD worth of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine through the Silkroad prior to the marketplace being shut down in 2013.
Evidence retrieved by the authorities at his residence included drugs, a firearm, and several thousand dollars. Sadler was ultimately given a five-year prison sentence.
Over the past few years, darknet marketplaces such as Silkroad have become a headache of the police and the judicial system due to their employment of new forms of technology to communicate and transact, making it difficult for authorities to handle.
Even after the shutdown of Silkroad website, the investigators established that Campbell found other avenues to sell drugs to customers. With such concrete evidence against him, Campbell may be facing heavy charges. He will be sentenced on May 9th, 2017.
Everyone that likes the Silk Road needs a list of Silk Road alternatives, this is because our favorite darknet marketplaces never last forever.
We all know that the Silk Road has made history on the Darknet, and it is widely considered a pioneer in centralized Darknet marketplaces. The brand started its evolution with the original Silk Road, being one of the first marketplaces to employ this business model.
The brand started its evolution with the original Silk Road, being one of the first marketplaces to employ this business model.
The alleged mastermind behind it was a man called Ross Ulbricht, also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” He held belief that drug consumption and trafficking is something that can be done safely and peacefully, without any fear, just like any other kind of shopping.
Even though Silk Road has been closed after a very successful business campaign, some of its admins and prominent vendors did not want to give up on it that easily.
They all together decided to revive it and go on with their philosophy of free drug consumption and standing up against the authorities.
That is how a Silk Road alternative with the same name but with a 2.0 added was created.
It wasn’t long until the Silk Road 2.0 was allegedly hacked and shut down, and it is said that around 4 thousand Bitcoin were stolen.
The main problem with the Silk Road 2.0 is that the agencies that were in a raging war against drugs held Dread Pirate Roberts captive, together with his laptop and all the market data on it.
The data included some information about people who were later arrested for the involvement with the Silk Road.
Silk Road 3.0 and Silk Road Reloaded
Silk Road Reloaded was what many considered a cheap attempt at a Silk Road alternative by a small and obviously anonymous marketplace at trying to make money off of a name.
The critics were pretty harsh on the admins; many considered them rude and weird since they acted in a very impolite way in some cases.
One of its many downsides is the fact that they didn’t use Bitcoins only, coupled with the fact that they were not accessible by Tor but rather its less popular counterpart i2P.
Another marketplace which tries to revive the Silk Road legacy has stepped up to the plate. Some say that it has no connection to the original Silk Road aside of the name; others support this by claiming that it is a small marketplace called Diabolus Marketplace.
However, security on the website is worth double-checking, since many people say that the Silk Road era is over and that no one sane would put any money or conduct business on such a site.
Whether this is true or not, this is what you encounter once you go to the website: first and foremost, you have to register, and then you are free to browse the site and do your business.
What most people are interested in are the listings. You have the possibility to filter your search by vendors or by product. The Silk Road 3.0 shows listings from vendors that have been active in the last three days.
There is a huge selection of goods numbering over 25 thousand drug listings, with total listings reaching as high as 35 thousand individual products or services. Given these numbers, it is more than clear that this is a drug-oriented marketplace.
If Silk Road goes down…
If the Silk Road 3.0 goes down, here is the list of Silk Road alternatives we recommend checking out AlphaBay, Dream Market, Valhalla, Outlaw Market, and Hansa Market. Each of the markets requests registration and after that allows you to explore further what they have to offer.
This is the biggest Silk Road alternative, it is a regular marketplace which is designed to suit the needs of the people who want to sell products worldwide. It is founded by alpha02, who is according to the DeepDotWeb a reputable member on most carding forums and an experienced carder.
While this may come as a deterrent to some of the Darknet community, the fact that alpha02 is a Darknet veteran and an experienced vendor cannot be denied. Once you follow the onion link and land on the first page, you will see the captcha system set in place and will be asked to write a string of numbers in digits correlating to the names of the numbers displayed to you on the page.
After the site verifies that you have entered the data correctly, you will be redirected to the home page of the market. Now, you can browse AlphaBay at your leisure. AlphaBay is known for its numerous features that help in increasing both the security of the site and the comfort of use.
That being said, it is currently one of the most well-designed Darknet markets around. It uses both multisig and normal escrow systems and as with most reputable markets, the only currency accepted is the Bitcoin.
Apart from drug listings which are by far the most common at over 19 thousand, you can encounter listings of jewelry, weapons, and most notably stolen credit cards, which seem to be AlphaBay’s secondary focus.
Dream Market is currently one of the oldest Darknet marketplaces around making it a reliable Silk Road alternative. It has been up and running since December 2013.
Dream Market’s site will let you explore the offer they have without having to sign in with an account, but, if you want to conduct business there, you will have to register. You will have to provide your username and password, along with the captcha verification. The listings include drugs and drug related item (around 2000 of them), jewelry, hardware and software, forgeries and many other items.
Payment is being done in Bitcoin, and the status of Bitcoin can be checked by looking at the top of the site. Dream Market uses a traditional escrow system, and it seems that a good portion of Darknet community praises it for being decently scammer-free.
Valhalla is also known by its Finnish name, Silkkitie. The change of name is supposed to signify the marketplace’s evolution from being a Finland-only based marketplace to international business. The site of this market is easy for browsing since its organization into categories and subcategories is quite well thought out.
When it comes to listings, you can find numerous listings of drugs, digital items, mushroom growing, and much more. The total number of listings goes around 8,500 to 9,000, over 5000 of which are drug listings. However, if you want to enter the website, you must register.
Write your username, password, and instead of captcha answer a simple question like “What day comes after Tuesday?”, or “What month comes after January?” When you submit your application, you will be able to explore and see all the listings and information that interests you.
As far as security on Valhalla goes, both multisig and traditional escrow are set in place, as well as a forced PGP encryption to make sure that no incriminating evidence passes through it unencrypted. Both buyer and vendor positions are invite-only as of recently, and one cannot open a business on Valhalla unless they have a referral link.
Outlaw Market is not well known for the beauty of the design of their website, but what it lacks in UI design it makes up in sheer security measures. For example, you will not find any direct link to profiles of the vendors, but there is a separate page reserved for them.
Upon following the onion link, you will be provided with the captcha page to prove that you’re not a DDoS bot. After that, you will register yourself by entering the username and password, and then you will be able to browse the market for what you are searching for.
Now, you may find the site slower than the others, but this is because they have several security systems in place which puts a slightly bigger load on their servers. The listing number which goes around to the number of 1,000 includes drugs, weapons, electronics, services, digital goods, and a handful of other products and services.
The number of vendors is also not overly significant. A unique vending system on Outlaw Market is their auction where buyers can compete among themselves to score better prices on some listings.
This is a market with great precaution and safety measures make it into our top 5 Silk Road alternatives. They claim that there is no chance that someone would disappear with the customer’s Bitcoins.
The listings don’t come down to drugs only, and one can find many other interesting products, from digital goods, jewelry, services, electronics, erotica, guides and tutorials, counterfeits, fraud related tutorials, etc. However, if you want to see the listings, you will have to sign in.
The procedure is a very basic one; provide them with your username and password, and make sure that you type in the correct captcha letters. Once you are finished, you can start browsing Hansa.
Even though it is one of the newer marketplaces, it has gained popularity quite quickly as a legitimate and scam-free business.
As virtually everybody is probably aware, the drugs trade has not always been connected to the internet and even today only a small portion of the global market is located online.
As a matter of fact, what is today considered as illegal drugs were probably used as a medicine or a diet supplement some 50 years ago.
It was not until recently that many substances were deemed dangerous to human health and psyche to the point where their possession was punishable by law.
The other side of the story that is more probably is that governments declared the drugs illegal for their own gain and to serve the agenda of multinational drug corporations.
As with every product where there is demand, there will always be suppliers. The trading of drugs has become a lawless business and as such it attracted a lot of danger with it.
Faced with such a situation a community of like-minded people who believed in responsible and controlled use of drugs appeared.
The number one problem they had on their hands in order to talk about and buy drugs online was organizing a safe environment for communication since what they discussed about could land them a fair amount of prison time.
Enter Tor and hidden services on the Deep Web. It did not take a long time for such a community to accept the anonymous nature of Tor as the greatest asset in the battle to preserve their identity.
At first, various forums began to sprout, and it was soon evident that not only people with good intentions were visiting them.
Since there was not a centralized system to buy drugs online and protect the customers from scamming suppliers, many people refrained from using Darknet Markets as their go-to source of drugs.
What many consider a revolution regarding their dream to buy drugs online began in 2011 with the founding of Silk Road. Silk Road was not the first attempt for a centralized marketplace for illegal products (including drugs) and services, but it soon proved to be the most stable one.
It lasted for more than two years until it attracted too much attention of international anti-drug law forces which shut it down in late 2013.
The following years saw a lot of instability on Darknet, as many marketplaces raced to fill in a spot left behind by Silk Road and after some time there are a few strong contenders to the title.
As of today, there are numerous marketplaces of different sizes and philosophies where one can buy drugs online, and it is safe to say that the online drugs trade is only going to grow as the time and technology progress.
The Current State of Darknet Marketplaces
As of recently, there seems to be a sort of a temporary stability on Darknet as there are no prominent new marketplaces opening and the giants currently at the top of Darknet drugs trade are not facing issues.
There are quite a few marketplaces currently open on Darknet where one can buy drugs online, but five of them take up the biggest share in online drug trafficking.
With the shutdown of Agora marketplace, AlphaBay has managed to become and stay the largest marketplace specializing in selling drugs.
This marketplace is known for their many features which help users increase their privacy, protect them from scammers (although scamming is still a burning issue) and increase the comfort of use.
It is important to note that AlphaBay seems to be under constant criticism since its secondary focus is carding and credit card information trade.
The second largest place one can buy drugs online is the Darknet marketplace Silk Road 3.0. This marketplace has seen a lot of criticism from the general public as trying to cash out on the name, but it has managed to prove over time that it was a legitimately safe and reliable place to buy drugs online.
It has steadily increased in size since its opening and it has reached the point where it has over 30 thousand listings offered by some of the most reputable vendors on Darknet.
Following behind Silk Road 3.0, when it comes to size and number of products to choose from, is the Dream Market.
Dream Market is one of the oldest marketplaces where one can buy drugs online, and it has been around longer than most currently popular hidden services.
This should be taken as a strong sign of quality and integrity.
While not as big as Silk Road 3.0 or AlphaBay, many people prefer it thanks to its clean design and ease of use.
Valhalla and Outlaw markets can also be considered senior residents of Darknet, but their volume is quite a bit lower than that of AlphaBay, Silk Road 3 and Dream Market.
This should not be considered as a detriment, as many big vendors from before mentioned marketplaces have profiles set up on different marketplaces.
Valhalla was until recently a Finnish-only marketplace, and they have since expanded into an international business.
To commemorate this, they have changed their name from Silkkitie to Valhalla in order to appeal to the broader audience.
Given its Finnish roots, it should not come as a surprise that most of its community is based in Finland, but the international vendors are increasingly showing interest in this marketplace and are starting to open up profiles.
Outlaw, on the other hand, has been an international marketplace for the entirety of its existence, and the community present there stands as the proof of that.
Outlaw is widely considered one of the most secure places to buy drugs online, despite its design not being too pleasing to the eye.
Luckily, Outlaw admins are announcing a rework of the site design but are stating that user security is their primary concern while design takes a distant second place.
The last on the list of top Darknet drugs sources and the newest addition to the market is the Hansa marketplace.
Despite it being a relatively new marketplace, it received an overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Darknet community.
While there are a significantly lower number of vendors compared to other top marketplaces, it still manages to attract the attention of many customers mainly due to their security policy.
There are a few well-known and established vendors on Hansa which only serves to increase the amount of people returning to buy drugs online. And despite an increasing traffic, the reviews it receives are hardly ever negative.
Buying Prescription Drugs Online
Aside from being used by people to buy illicit drugs online, the Darknet marketplaces have allowed their users to have an easy access to prescription drugs.
It has recently become evident that large pharmaceutical companies are becoming more and more focused on profit without much care for any form of ethic conduct.
This coupled with the fact that many drugs are becoming harder to acquire due to them being classified as “easy to abuse” and the average person looking to buy some painkillers for their toothache is faced with extortionate prices if they are looking to stay within the bounds of the law.
It is for this reason that many vendors and even whole marketplaces who were used to selling drugs online, have switched their business model to prescription drugs trade.
While the prices are still not on the lower side of things, prescription drugs online are much more affordable and easier to acquire then buying them in a typical pharmacy in the US, since they do not require frequent visits to the doctor.
Safety Measures When Ordering on Darknet Marketplaces
The first, most obvious and unavoidable thing one will have to use to get access to Darknet marketplaces is a Tor browser. There is no other way to access hidden services or buy drugs online without using Tor.
That being said, Tor in itself is not perfect software, even more so since it started to attract the attention of anti-drug law enforcements.
Another thing to note is that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is always aware of your Tor usage which can be used against us in the worst case scenario.
It is for this reason that the use of a good VPN is highly advised, some would say even mandatory.
What “good” means when it comes to VPNs is whether they keep logs of their user’s activities, what payment method is allowed when using their services and which country are they situated in.
The third layer of protection one should consider using if they want to buy drugs online is Tails OS. Tails is a Debian-based Linux distribution created with the sole purpose of protecting its user’s identity.
When using Tails, it is advised that one boots it from the USB, as it opens the possibility of quickly getting rid of any data tied to the online purchase of drugs in extreme scenarios.
All that is needed is a 4GB or larger USB stick on which a Tails .iso is burned.
This covers most of the technical measures one should take a note off, but there are other things that need to be taken care of to ensure one’s safety in order to buy drugs online.
First and foremost, it is mandatory that we do a thorough research on the vendor when we decide to buy drugs online.
If we fail to do so, best case scenario is getting a bad product or getting scammed, while the worst case scenario can even be running into an undercover law enforcement officer.
Even when you do your homework on various vendors, it is still advisable to get a chemical test kit when ordering from an untested vendor.
Even respected vendors can have a bad batch of drugs and testing it beforehand can save us from some awful experiences.
While many different countries have different views on the use of drugs, in almost any country possession of substances that are deemed as illegal drugs by the law enforcement or an attempt to buy drugs online will get you a prison sentence and a monetary fine.
A standard penalty for possession of class A drugs in the UK (MDMA, Cocaine, Heroine, etc.) usually gets the sentence of up to 7 years in prison.
In case the court decides that the defendant had the intention of distributing said drugs, the punishment is a lifetime in prison and a monetary fine of indefinite value.
As far as US federal law goes, the prison sentence is always the penalty for drug possession. The duration of the prison sentence varies depending on the substance in question, the amount of drugs and whether the offense was a first one on the defendant’s record.
For example, possession of any none-cocaine-based drugs in any amount will yield a fine of at least $1000 USD and a prison sentence of up to 1 year.
In case the court determines that there was an intent of distribution of said drugs, the term of imprisonment can reach up to a lifetime in prison depending on the amount found in possession.
Asian countries are the strictest when it comes to drug laws, and almost any amount of any illegal drugs will be penalized by a minimum of 10 years in prison and the death penalty has been used in drug cases.
Drug Rehabilitation and Harm Reduction
The one exceedingly prominent good side when someone looks into how to buy drugs online is the accessibility to the community.
There are numerous forums that help people stay safe during drug use and even offer medical and harm reduction advice.
Couple this with the fact that the purity of drugs on Darknet is generally much higher than purity of drugs found on the streets and it becomes clear how much the Darknet community helps in harm reduction tied to the use of drugs.
There are even tips on how one can help themselves stop using drugs which are often backed up by personal experiences and even medical research.
The use of drugs has come a long way from movie-like scenes of shady deals on the streets or bloody gang conflicts, ever since it has become evident how easy it is to buy drugs online.
While the above mentioned are still very present, the drug trade is starting to make a shift to the virtual realm, mainly because it offers a more secure channel for distribution and an incredibly wider market.
Another reason to buy drugs online is the ease of marketing and accessibility to community offered by various anonymity measures.
These factors cannot even be taken into consideration when thinking about the traditional face-to-face way of selling and this is why people will continue to prefer to buy drugs online.
It was a different time for Darknet marketplaces back in 2013. The whole idea of a centralized marketplace for something like drugs was not as accepted as it is today, at least not until Silk Road stepped up to the plate.
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.
Silk Road was the first “real” drug marketplace on Darknet and one of the pioneers of the idea that drugs could be sold and bought over the internet anonymously. It was established by a man called Ross Ulbricht, known to many as “Dread Pirate Roberts” and his associates. Aside from the fact that this was the first Darknet Marketplace of this size, what separated it from other contenders at that time was Dread Pirate Roberts’ philosophy of standing up against the system and proving that drug consumption and trafficking can be done peacefully and safely. One of the main reasons for Silk Road’s existence at that time was to allow people who wanted to purchase illegal drugs, to do so without fearing for their safety.
This went on until October 2nd, 2013 when an FBI Seizure Notice replaced the usual Silkroad login screen. Shortly after that, different speculations started circling the Darknet about what was the full story behind this. Most prominent theories were that either Dread Pirate Roberts was arrested, or he ran off with everyone’s money. There were some who still clung to hope that this was just a prank pulled by the site’s admins, but this was soon dispelled by the confirmation of the news that Ross Ulbricht has been arrested on the charges pertaining to running Silk Road.
What followed after could be very well described as a fall of a nation. Mass panic among the Darknet community ensued and many people were justifiably worried about their personal data and whether it was safe. Luckily, most of the buyers from Silkroad were not persecuted but were left with a difficult situation nonetheless. What was to be done now? Without Silk Road where will they purchase the goods that were so readily available to them just a few days ago?
People, who will in time be called “Silk Road refugees,” now had to find a new marketplace that will replace the hole that the site left. This was a period of many scams, one of the most well-known ones being the Sheep Marketplace scam. On the flip side, after the owner of Sheep Marketplace disappeared with estimated 40 million dollars in Bitcoin, a post appeared on the front page of Sheep Marketplace with several .onion links directing to other “trustworthy” marketplaces. The result of this was that not only Sheep Marketplace was shut down due to exit scam, but TorMarket and Black Market Reloaded also had to turn into invite-only marketplaces because their servers could not handle the sudden influx of people from Silk Road and Sheep Marketplace.
Silk Road 2.0
After the fall of Silkroad, some of the admins and prominent vendors refused to “give up” and decided to revive the site as it once was. The alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” was picked up by one of the well-known vendors from the site StExo. He then met with several mods and admins from the site to discuss its revival and even posted a notice on Silkroad forums telling Dread Pirate Roberts to contact him as soon as possible. Many speculated that this was an attempt to make the authorities believe they have a wrong person, or at least that “Dread Pirate Roberts” was not a single person, to begin with.
After establishing himself as a successor to Dread Pirate Roberts, StExo rallied a group of now-former Silkroad admins and decided that their first course of action was to create a new place of gathering for Silkroad refugees. The people assisting StExo were accurately described as “a colorful bunch,” but they all shared the idea that Silk Road was not dead for good.
Among the group was Scout, a former moderator of Silkroad forum, who was well known and well liked by the community, but had a history of “betraying his captain.” He has been discovered by Dread Pirate Roberts to be conspiring with an undercover federal agent to create a vendor account in an attempt to infiltrate Silk Road. He was laid off because of this and later reinstated just to be fired again, followed by another reinstatement under a different moniker.
Another part of the crew was a person known under the name Same Same But Different (SSBD), who was allegedly Dread Pirate Roberts’ most loyal confidant.
The last person to assist in the creation of Silk Road 2.0 was the former forum administrator Libertas. He was known as “Gestapo,” but nonetheless his seal of approval was what finally got people to rally to Silkroad 2.0’s forum.
Sometime after the creation of Silk Road 2.0 forum, StExo posted under his moniker that while he approves of the site’s forum, will never trust a marketplace opened under the name of someone else’s idea. This was, of course, arouse created to distance StExo from the entire operation.
In November 2013 the new Silk Road 2.0 marketplace opened for business, which was a direct taunt to the authorities. By now any possibility of Silk Road’s staff being on authorities’ radar has been dismissed, and the admins of Silkroad continued using their old monikers.
The problem was that Silkroad 2.0 was a huge taunt to the competence of agencies fighting the War on Drugs and those same agencies held Ross Ulbricht and all data stored on his personal laptop. Unfortunately, that data included personal information on SSBD, Libertas, and Inigo, who were arrested and charged for involvement with Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0. After this, StExo disappeared, but the allure of potential profit that Silkroad offered was too great. He returned under a different name, Defcon, and fabricated a story that would explain the current state of events.
Shortly after, Silkroad 2.0 was allegedly hacked and around 4 thousand Bitcoins were stolen. A post was placed on the site’s forum that contained personal information of said hacker, which later turned out to be fabricated. The accepted explanation is that StExo realized that it is no longer safe running the site and thus decided to run away with all the Bitcoin that was in escrow at the time.
Silk Road 3.0
Following the fall of Silk Road 2.0, a large majority of Darknet has started to shun the name and associate it with scamming. The name that once signified the battle against the War on Drugs is now nothing more than a shade of its former self. Given this, it is unusual, to say the least, that a small but relatively prominent marketplace called Diabolus Marketplace, decided last year to change their name into Silk Road 3.0 following the closure of its second iteration. The site has not only changed its name but has also actively rebranded itself to resemble Silk Road. The owner of the site has also admitted in an interview that they are working with a senior member from older Silk Roads to create the Silk Road 3.0. This has caused the majority of Darknet community to question the trustworthiness of the site and many people went as far as to claim that “you have to be retarded to put money into any site that has Silk Road in its name” and that “Silk Road era is done.” Even sites like DeepDotWeb are warning their users that any further Silkroad iterations are not to be trusted and will probably end up scamming their users. While the Silkroad 3.0 is still up and running, and quite well if one looks at the amount of listings posted on it, there is no telling how it will end and who the people are running it behind the scenes.
Silk Road Reloaded
As with Silk Road 3.0, Silk Road Reloaded was another marketplace that tried to cash in on the name. It got an even worse treatment than Silkroad 3.0, mainly because its admin acted very weirdly, even rudely in some cases, and was considered to be a troll by a majority of Darknet community. An interesting thing about the site is that it was based on i2p rather than Tor, which earned it a lot of side glances from Darknet community. It also had its inbuilt crypto-currency converter, meaning it was accepting payments in a currency other than Bitcoin, which was converted automatically by the site. It has been ten months since any news was heard from the site, which probably means that the marketplace has been shut down for one reason or another.
Future of Silk Road
While Silk Road 3.0 still stands and operates normally, many people who have been visiting Darknet marketplaces for a longer period are appealing to the newer users to steer clear of Silkroad brand. The name itself has been too heavily connected to scamming and foul play, making the majority of users decides on other sites as their source of business. And with the recent increase in personal vendor marketplaces which have proven to be much safer and trustworthy, centralized markets like Silkroad 3.0 are getting less and fewer visitors every day. It is possible that it will be the last real iteration of Silk Road since the name has started to bring more bad publicity than anything else.
Seattle. June 3rd, 2016. Brian Farrell, operating Silk Road 2.0 under the alias “DoctorClu,” was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones to 8 years in prison as filed under case No. 15-mj-00016.
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.
Founder of the original Silk Road underground drug marketplace in early 2011, Ross Ulbricht aka “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was sentenced to life in prison back in May 2015. The second version of the site was launched in November 2013 weeks after authorities had shut down the original darknet site and seized its creator.
Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0 known as “Defcon,” was arrested in the year 2014 but denied creating the successor darknet site. However, its second-in-command staff administrator has admitted to the charges against him.
Key Player Unlocked
Brian Farrell was arrested in January 2015, and during the search, federal agents discovered three handguns, drug paraphernalia, a myriad of prescription medications, computer media, 20 silver bullion bars with a $3,900 monetary value and cash amounting to $35,000. The silver and dollar evidence will be forfeited to the government in addition to the prison sentence.
He admitted his involvement with the second iteration of the darknet site when the authorities searched his Washington home ensuing Operation Onymous, an international crackdown that targeted suspected illicit marketplaces and various other Tor hidden services in the darknet.
The sentence followed months after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the distribution of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in March this year. These charges typically carry a minimum term of 5 years in prison.
The Department of Justice revealed in a 2015 press release that Silk Road 2.0 has amassed approximately $8 million generated sales per month. It had around 150,000 users who were granted the freedom to buy anonymously and sell illicit goods and services including drugs and computer hacking tools using the digital currency bitcoin.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods has stated that the Silk Road is a threat to public safety and health, as the platform expands a serious drug market throughout the country and the world. In line with this is a clear message from the government that such cyber crimes are bound to be faced with serious penalties.
It seems as though the darknet market Silk Road 3.0 is not yet done with. It was reported recently that the third version of Silk Road is making an effort to improve its acceptance and popularity through a society charity drive. As part of the charity drive scheduled to be held from June 8, 2016 onwards, Silk Road 3.0 would donate $5 from each and every sale on the site to Last Door Recovery Society.
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.
It is a fact that Silk Road 3.0 is a darknet site that mostly deals with illicit products and services, but it seems they have a big heart when it comes to giving donation to charity. The site’s admins revealed their intention to hold a society charity drive starting June 8 in a press releasesent earlier this month.
They said that the marketplace would contribute $5 from the proceeds of each sale to Last Door Recovery Society even if the sale amount is less than $5. This means that they will have to shell out their own money in order to keep up their commitment.However, with the revenues they can generatefrom the site’s operation, they are not likely to go bankrupt.
The Last Door Recovery Society based at Vancouver, Canada, is a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. The non-profit organization runs two core treatment programs. The center focuseson treating both young (Last Door Youth Program) and adult (Last Door Adult Program) as well asoffers adjunct rehab treatment programs for partners and families. They need to be supported financially so that they can continue their good work.
Silk Road 3.0 is a marketplace in the dark web for selling mostly illegal goods as well as services, including drugs. However, the siteencourages harm reduction as well as responsible use of substances that are capable of inducing mind altering effects. There is a section of the forum for harm reduction. It includes drug profiles, drug addiction questionnaire, and other more useful information. For those who may have health issue with substance, they encourage them to stop use and getappropriate medical help at once.
This might seem to be rather strange as far as some people are concerned as it seems they would profit less. However, it looks as though the admins are focusing on ensuring privacy and security of the users of the site for now rather than driving profits.
Further, it appears that the society charity drive scheduled to begin from June 8 is not likely to be the first and only charity to be organized by Silk Road 3.0. The admins of the platform are also urging users of the site to regularly send donations in bitcoins to charities.It is definitely a worthyeffort on the part of Silk Road 3.0 to organize a society charity drive like this;however, it is rather questionable to some.
All said and done, it remains to be seen whether Silk Road 3.0 will be able to drive revenues through this initiative or not.
The launch of the darknet marketplace Silkroad led to the proliferation of illicit activities on the internet. Politicians, especially Charles Schumer, quickly started targeting Silkroad and the website was shut down by the law enforcement in 2013. However, the concept of distributed, anonymous and peer-reviewed e-commerce using digital currency originated by Silkroad is here to stay.
The central theme of the operations in the darknet marketplace is bitcoin, the digital currency developed by a person known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, which enables pseudonymous transactions. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silkroad who was convicted, leveraged bitcoin technology to enable purchase and sale of illicit goods on his website. During the heydays of Silkroad, researchers from academic institutions demonstrated as to how the transactions executed using bitcoin could be tracked as well as analyzed.
The reputation of Silkroaddeclined after the hire-for-murder scheme offered by the website was brought to light. Though the damage it caused through sale of drugs is still unclear, one heroin dealer has said that Silkroad was instrumental in ruining his life. However, as drug laws are changing very fast, particularly with respect to cannabis, the website deserves a fair deal. Further, various political establishments around the world are pushing for decriminalization of different drugs.
The Netherlands is notorious for its lax marijuana laws. In Vancouver in British Columbia, proliferation of cannabis stores, on and off, is very common. In fact, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, has even said that he would like to decriminalize, but regulate, cannabis. In many jurisdictions around the world, marijuana is legal.
Australia wanted to control enteogens and the Supreme Court overturned the decision of a New Mexico Court, preventing the federal government from banning the use of a sacramental tea by UDV (a Christian Spiritist religion) as it contained a Schedule-1 substance.
US politicians Rand Paul and Ron Paul have worked for the decriminalization of several drugs. Paul has even hinted at decriminalization of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Academic institutions have also classified certain drugs as having therapeutic benefits, for example, LSD.
In an article recently published by Reuters, David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology who has worked with Carhart-Harris, said that it is now possible to see as to what is going on in a person’s brain when it is in the psychedelic state and better understand as to why LSD profoundly impacts self-awareness. According to him, this would mean a lot as far as psychiatry is concerned.
The studies on beneficial effects of drugs would definitely be continued and, therefore, law enforcement agencies should be aware of the implications of once forbidden drugs. Actually, Silkroad was futuristic in the sense that it set the trend for drug commerce, especially marijuana, in the years to come. Most of the transactions on Silkroad involved marijuana.
In the US, legalization of marijuana is a bi-partisan problem. Sixty-three percent of the Republican Millennials and seventy-seven percent of the Democratic Millennials support legalization of cannabis. If marijuana is legalized, movements that promote decriminalization and legalization of Schedule-1 drugs might ensue.
Even pharmaceutical users who did not have insurance allegedly had accounts on Silkroad for purchasing medicines. This is because the site offered privacy, a key health care system attribute, for the procurement of medicines.
Further, Silkroad offered a rating system that was akin to what eBay or other e-commerce sites offered. This meant that the product sold on the Silkroad site were peer-reviewed. In addition, the rating system effectively monitored the buyers, sellers and products. The rating system also plays a role in keeping a check on false claims through advertisements.
However, many questions remain unanswered, especially the violent services allegedly offered by Silkroad. In addition to counterfeit money, fake IDs and passports, the Silkroad also purportedly offered hitmen services. It is alleged that Ross Ulbricht, who just completed one year in jail, ordered one hit on-site users.
However, the law enforcement agencies that tracked down Ross Ulbricht and Silkroad did not experience any difficulty in cracking the darknet marketplace. If regulated, a pseudonymous marketplace might prove to be a safe option for people who want to buy substances like marijuana that are on the fence as far as legality is concerned. Further, the law enforcement will be in the know of the deals taking place on these websites and will, therefore, be able to enforce better oversight.
Uber frequently finds itself in the news and many a time for the wrong reasons. The latest beating that it took was when a judge recently, during the course of the hearing (in an antitrust case being heard out at New York), compared Uber to Silkroad, the now defunct online black marketplace.
The allegations were made against Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber and other Uber drivers as regards their price-surge policy. A class-action suit was filed as a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act (Section 1). The acts were seen as a conspiracy in illegal price fixing by the accused.
How illegal the whole case may be, there are interesting facts that make up the case. Uber is known to organize meet-ups called “partner appreciation,”wherein the participants agree to reinforce their commitment to the agreement that may in fact be illegal or unlawful. All Uber drivers sign an agreement as part of the terms of employment, which purportedly gathers the implicit agreement of the signees to support price-fixing. As such, it was easy to get the drivers to agree to the cab company’s terms and policies. Further, there are other pending lawsuits and regulatory offences charged against the company and its business model that await legal hearing.
Uber, however, counter-argued that the drivers are being accused of conspiring with Travis to increase the fares and this just does not make any sense. At this instance, Uber’s argument was dismissed and a comparison was drawn with the now defunct darknetsite Silkroad. The judge compared the case with the Silkroad creator, Ross Ulbricht, currently serving a life sentence in prison.
In the Silkroad case, the government accused Ross Ulbricht as the ultimate leader of a single conspiracy that was responsible for all the vendors included in Silkroad who sold any type of narcotic substance. Judge Jed Rakoff compared this to Travis and the Uber drivers. The digitally decentralized Uber app was in many ways similar to Silkroad. The Uber app resembled a marketplace that was used by Travis to hatch a conspiracy along with all of the Uber drivers.
Another point of comparison that was drawn was that Silkroad was not just a website or platform that sold drugs. The vendors along with the Silkroad site owner had conspired to sell drugs using the Silkroad façade. Similarly, the price surge did not just happen on the call-a-cab platform, all the Uber drivers purportedly conspired together to create the price surge. To be fair, the judge concerned cited many other cases where they weren’t Tor-hidden websites like Silkroad and the group conspiracy angle was absent. However, things do not look rosy for the Uber head Travis Kalanick. The litigation is well on its way and a trial has been scheduled for the 1stof November this year.
With Judge Jed Rakoff of the U. S. District Court in Manhattan denied a bid to dismiss a class action suit against Travis Kalanick which alleged that Uber’s smartphone app was being used to coordinate high surge prices with hundreds of drivers all over the world, this case, opens a new line of allegations and legal attacks on many businesses that function on the sharing-economy models.
Two of the leading non-profits in the US that are dedicated to bringing in reform to drug laws said recently that the sentencing of life imprisonment without parole imposed on the founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, should be withdrawn. Further, they also said that Ulbricht should be re-sentenced by remanding him to another judge.
Last year, Ulbricht was convicted for charges which include conspiracy to drug-trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking. Ulbricht admitted to creating the darknet marketplace, Silk Road. However, his lawyer said that he handed it over to others later. The Silk Road founder is appealing his conviction as well as sentencing.
Last week, in an amicus brief that was filed, the lawyers for Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) wrote that life sentences are imposed exceedingly rarely under the federal criminal justice system, especially in the case of individuals like Ulbricht who do not have any prior criminal record. They also noted that this is specifically true in the case of people convicted of offenses related to drugs, which includes drug trafficking as well. Further, the lawyers have argued that life sentence was imposed in only 3 percent of all cases of drug trafficking. Typically, it is reserved for those that commit violent crimes.
In the US, more than ninety percent of the life sentence cases involve sexual assault, murder, aggravated assault, rape, kidnapping, or robbery. According to Bureau of Drug Statistics, individuals are sentenced for 6.3 years or 75.5 months for drug conviction. The sentencing imposed by state prisons, on average, is five years.
The brief was also signed by a former federal judge and LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). According to the brief, the appeals court should overturn the sentence imposed on Ulbricht for two reasons: one is that it violates Eighth Amendment (it prohibits unusual and cruel punishment) and the other is that it “shocks the conscience.”
The amicus brief, which focuses solely on harsh treatment imposed on Ulbricht, does not have any problem with his conviction. Additionally, it points out that the six drug overdose deaths, which have been tied to the Silk Road case by government, have been wrongly considered by the US District Judge Katherine Forrest. In fact, the overdose cases have only a superficially plausible connection with the Silk Road, according to the amici.
According to the DPA lawyers, the causes of overdose are complex. They also argue that it is a better idea to specify limits for opioid prescriptions and expand access to naloxone (anti-overdose drug) and substance abuse treatment instead of imposing severe punishment on the Silk Road founder. Further, they point out that sentencing Ulbricht, keeping in mind drug overdose deaths, amounts to violation of process rights due to him.
Additionally, the brief objects to the consideration of the allegation of murder for hire against Ross Ulbricht by Judge Forrest (a jury has not evaluated the allegations). Finally, the groups also object to the reason – prevent creation of darknet marketplaces by future criminals – given by Forrest for sentencing Ulbricht to a life-term in jail. They also argue that long sentences do not have any deterrence value and that the last 40 years of war on drugs has clearly demonstrated the same.
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.
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, 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.
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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