Silk Road: The online drug marketplace that officials seem powerless to stopSubmitted by Jefferson on Tue, 03/26/2013 - 11:04
Authorities around the world know about the website, but closing it is another matter – partly because it uses Bitcoins
The Guardian, Friday 22 March 2013
Mark Johnson* rifles through his mail as he gets home from work. Among the usual bills is a small padded envelope. Though it doesn't have his name on, it's the package he's most interested in: inside lie two grams of, he hopes, relatively pure MDMA.
Johnson has no idea who has sent him the envelope: he has never met his dealer, and never will. The delivery was facilitated through a website called Silk Road, an underground eBay-like site which has become the core marketplace for buying and selling drugs online – and despite law enforcement authorities across the world being fully aware of its operation they have, so far, been powerless to stop it.
The site has been shrouded in secrecy even since it was founded in February 2011, but research due to be formally published later this year tracked its growth during six months of last year. Over those months, sales on the site doubled, hitting $1.7m a month.
Johnson, a TV executive, is one of those contributing to those monthly takings. Describing himself as "not excited or impressed by drugs per se", but "interested" in them, he explains how he came to the Silk Road.