Senator Chuck Schumer called it “a certifiable one-stop shop for illegal drugs that represents the most brazen attempt to peddle drugs online that we have ever seen.”
That was eight months ago, and despite a law enforcement investigation, the website Silk Road now offers not just drugs—but illegal firearms as well.
And oh, no no. It’s not just drugs or firearms. There is pornography, pirated DVDs and hacking software too! There are opioids and amphetamines and assault guns galore. And while yes, yes, YES it is highly illegal, the government has yet to figure out how to take down one of the Internet’s most notorious black markets.
RT was one of a handful of outlets to report on Silk Road last year after the seedy underbelly of the Web was exposed. Word that weapons and weed could be purchased with almost no way of law enforcement tracing sellers’ tracks made the website’s user traffic skyrocket and yes, did raise some questions from Senator Schumer and some others. The lawmaker asked for an investigation and alerted the authorities that money was being laundered, drugs were being sold and it was all being conducted over the World Wide Web. Schumer said he alerted the DEA and told the Associated Press back in June, “I'd bet my bottom dollar” that they were trying to get to the bottom of it.
Eight months later though, the Silk Road paved with psilocybin, assault rifles and pirated pornography has yet to see any roadblock.
"Last time you wrote an article about Silk Road, we got a lot of attention, new members, and even some heat from the feds," an administrator from the site tells Gawker. "That was good for us, but we weren't completely ready for it." Since news broke of the Web’s best black market, the site has changed things accordingly. Now in addition to only being able to access it with an anonymity client that covers up data footprints, accounts are necessary to browse the vast collection of cocaine and concealed firearms. The added security step hasn’t deterred traffic, either. The collection of contraband available for sale has only gone up in numbers, and now Silk Road, which uses a crypto-currency called Bitcoin in order to exchange drugs for money, is even hiring.
“Want to work on the cutting edge of online anonymity and security? Want to contribute to an ever growing community? Do you want to be a part of this Revolution?” Silk Road asks web-savvy surfers to answer those questions and apply for the positions of database expert and customer support team member. “If you think you have what it takes, please apply to one of the positions below,” they ask. Applicants are just asked to be hard working, dedicated and ready to work for the Internet’s number one seller of illegal stimulants. The application process for both positions asks interested parties, “What is your drug of choice?”
That doesn’t mean that applicants will get to dip into the vast collection of narcotics that come from all corners of the globe, though. Once travelers on the Silk Road log-in, they barter with bitcoin currency, which fluctuates in value daily, to work out a deal. Bitcoins are bought from a third-party service, exchanged for goods and then a virtual handshake paves the way for the seller to ship seemingly anything across the country — or the world. Both guns and drugs come from all corners of not just the US, but the entire globe. One seller even tells Gawker that of the 100-plus transactions he has participated in, most of them are sent over to Europe. The reason? Strict gun laws that can only be circumvented not with the neighborhood arms dealer, but the Web’s.
"Every single citizen should have enough firepower that the government fears the citizens. The people should not fear the government,” seller “Dbush” tells Gawker.
In the US, however, the government has already shown — especially as of late — what the consequences could be for operating illegally on the Internet. Given the overzealous action that federal authorities took in bringing down the file-sharing site Megaupload, you would think that a black market for both firearms and narcotics would be the number one enemy for the feds. The US government arranged a massive international raid on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s New Zealand residence earlier this month, and the proprietor of the site now faces extradition and decades behind bars — for letting customers share music. Silk Road still remains intact, however, and while pirated pornos and the like are abundant here — for purchase, mind you — so is everything else under the sun. In the case of Megaupload, the raid occurred after immense criticism by way of Hollywood over how Congress was doing little to thwart piracy. Perhaps it will take a serious blow to the US government’s drug and gun trade to cause authorities to erect a “Do Not Enter” sign over Silk Road. In the meantime, its registered users on the black market don’t seem to be worried.
If the available supply of items on Silk Road is any indication, the users of the site don’t fear much at all, really. Even after that DEA probe that Schumer swore was happening, a gram of fishscale cocaine, pure MDMA and handguns are all available almost as easy as clicking the “Buy Now” button on eBay’s interface.
And for the less adventurous, seller “BTCpal” is offering up a rare DVD performance of Michael Jackson from a New Zealand tour stop in 1996. For those that want the authentic King of Pop experience, you might need to look elsewhere though. Although the site currently boasts an inventory of nearly 1,900 narcotics for sale, propofol, the drug that did in the “Thriller” star himself, is unavailable for purchase.
For less than a single bitcoin, you can buy a pack of doctor’s notes, however.