Internet offers a safe, less violent and more ethical marketplace for unlawful substances according to its advocates. This is the reason Silk Road thrived. Agora Marketplace too seems to be thriving. Despite the constant fear of closures by government authorities, these cryptomarkets provide a wider variety of products, offer better customer care and give increased assurance to the socially conscious users that their products are traded fairly and are conflict free.
Silk Road was first launched in February 2011 as a TOR hidden portal that online users browse securely and anonymously without the risk of traffic monitoring. By March 2013, Silk Road was selling about 10,000 products most of which were drugs considered contraband in many jurisdictions. All transactions in Silk Road were conducted with bitcoins, a crypto currency that affords users some degree of anonymity. It was estimated that this portal facilitated $15 million worth of transactions annually. The site was however taken down in October 2013 by the FBI and its alleged creator, Ross William Ulbricht arrested and charged with drug trafficking, facilitating computer hacking, soliciting murder and money laundering.
The demise of Silk Road did create a vacuum that was filled by Agora Marketplace. Agora was launched in 2013 and is only accessible to users who surf using anonymous TOR browsers. Since its inception, it already has more than 16,000 listings and looks to surpass the popularity of Silkroad’s latest incarnation dubbed Silk Road 2.0.
Despite this growth, the fear of closure is something dark net users and operators constantly live with. And because many users tend to aggregate around a single cryptomarket they call home; when this is closed they usually are left digital refugees. This state necessitates the need to migrate to other online spaces. Agora Marketplace’s growth for instance is attributed to the migration of users who remained digital destitute when the original Silk Road was busted. These users look out for a new market because they want a constant supply of their drugs and prefer to get these using non-violent ways that they also believe are almost ethically right.