silk road

Buying Your Drugs Online Is Good for You

Silk Road 2.0, the successor to the deep web’s most infamous marketplace, just passed a new milestone. Despite a dramatic holiday season, when three of its staff and several vendors were arrested on conspiracy charges, there are now over 10,000 narcotics listings on its pixelated shelves. And, according to its acting administrator “Defcon”, traffic to the website has doubled since December.

So it appears that the site—where you can anonymously get your hands on pretty much any substance you want, as well as a bunch of other illegal stuff that you’d usually need Turkish mob connections to access—is just as resilient to the feds as its current ownershad promised it would be.

And far from the digital trap house many have depicted it to be, Silk Road 2.0 has continued its predecessor’s aim of allowing drug users to make informed decisions about their use of psychoactive substances, both by providing products that are open to quality checks and through the spread of honest information about how to take those products as safely as possible.


1,700-Year-Old Silk Road Cemetery Contains Mythical Carvings

A cemetery dating back roughly 1,700 years has been discovered along part of the Silk Road, a series of ancient trade routes that once connected China to the Roman Empire.

The cemetery was found in the city of Kucha, which is located in present-day northwest China. Ten tombs were excavated, seven of which turned out to be large brick structures.

One tomb, dubbed “M3,” contained carvings of several mythical creatures, including four that represent different seasons and parts of the heavens: the White Tiger of the West, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Black Turtle of the North and the Azure Dragon of the East. Read more.


The clerk read each of the guilty verdicts, seven of them, while standing next to a large window that framed the Brooklyn Bridge in thin winter sunlight. That panoramic view will be one of the last Ross Ulbricht, who had just been convicted of multiple crimes, including narcotics trafficking conspiracy and money laundering, will likely enjoy for many years. The man who built Silk Road, the Amazon of what’s often called the Dark Web, took his conviction stoically, then turned and smiled at his family and supporters—young men and women who distrust the government at least as much as Tea Partyers do.

As a federal marshal marched Ulbricht out a side door, a young man in black dreadlocks shouted, “Ross is a hero!”

Even before he was arrested in October 2013, Ulbricht portrayed himself as more than a drug kingpin—a philosopher kingpin, perhaps. He is ambitious, creative, tech-savvy and a dead-ringer for actor Robert Pattinson. Before he found his inner cartel leader, he was more Haight-Ashbury than Silicon Valley, more ’shrooms than Sand Hill Road, more into Adam Smith than Steve Jobs. He fashioned himself a libertarian, perhaps a younger, hipper version of Mitt Romney in his early days at Bain Capital. A scientist and self-taught programmer, he left digital crumbs recording his progression from grad student to online drug lord on his computer; on YouTube and LinkedIn; and in chats and emails. His fatal error was thinking he could remain anonymous on the Internet—the same Internet that computer security writer Bruce Schneier has called “a surveillance state.”


My Top Secret Meeting with One of Silk Road’s Biggest Drug Lords

Dread Pirate Roberts captained a ship that many thought was unsinkable. But when the FBI seized the original Silk Road on October 1, 2013 ,and arrested the alleged kingpin—29-year-old Ross Ulbricht—the online drugs empire began to capsize. Its hundreds of thousands of customers scattered across the Deep Web, and up to seven known Silk Road vendors were identified and arrested.

As the chaos unravelled into the mainstream and stories of Dread Pirate Roberts’ (DPR) alleged murder-for-hire antics made headlines, one prominent Silk Road drugs syndicate sat in their European safe-house with a ton of opium and a decision to make—would they cut their losses and disappear into the ether while they were still ahead, or keep their lucrative online drugs network running in the midst of all this extra attention?

The displaced drugs syndicate, known on the Deep Web as the Scurvy Crew (TSC), decided to go back to work. For them, back to work meant laundering Bitcoins, vacuum packing drug parcels, and jumping the Moroccan border with bags stuffed full of uncut drugs. Silk Road may have died a sudden death at the hands of the authorities, but as one of the highest rated vendors before the FBI shut-down, the Scurvy Crew saw its demise as an opportunity to diversify.

After six months of negotiation, via encrypted email and several phone calls from throwaway SIM cards, the boss of the Scurvy Crew agreed to meet me. He told me he would explain to me the inner workings of his Deep Web drugs venture, from its humble beginnings to the near million-dollar profits it now apparently generates. Known to me only by the pseudonym “Ace,” the boss claimed to represent a new breed of drug dealer.

“I don’t do this just for the money,” he wrote to me via email. “I like to provide a premium service.”



Trying to shut down Silk Road, and any of its many-headed hydra reiterations, seems to be the ultimate lesson in futility. According to Motherboard, a new version of the online black market, called Silk Road Reloaded, launched today on the I2p anonymous network, dealing with several altcoin currencies.

In fact, those are two of the biggest differentiators between this new Silk Road and its ancestors. Where Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0 used Tor and Bitcoin almost exclusively, Silk Road Reloaded will use a total of eight different forms of cryptocurrency, including Darkcoin, Dogecoin, and Anoncoin, with more along the way. As Motherboard mentions, Silk Road Reloaded has most of the illicit unmentionables you’d expect from an online black market, save for weapons and stolen credit card credentials.

The biggest news is that Silk Road Reloaded transitions from Tor to the anonymous, decentralized I2p network. Think of it as the deeper deep web. When Silk Road 2.0 was shutdown in November last year, black markets struggled to find an alternative to set up shop, fearing that Tor had been compromised or was culpable due to its U.S. government ties (those fears have not gone away.). It would seem that Reloaded has found a possible answer.

This new illicit site actually cribs this I2p tech from one of Silk Road’s competitors, TheMarketplace, which is one of the hardest to access markets on the dark web. After downloading I2P software or reconfiguring your computer, users then access .I2P sites, known as “eepSites.” One source says the actual entomology of the “eep” suffix could be an allusion to “end-to-end protocol,” “encrypted-to-encypted peer,” or is “just a phoneme for IIP (Invisible Internet Project).”

The creators of the I2P discuss the differences between onion routing and their own peer-based creation:

Tor and Onion Routing are both anonymizing proxy networks, allowing people to tunnel out through their low latency mix network. The two primary differences between Tor / Onion-Routing and I2P are again related to differences in the threat model and the out-proxy design (though Tor supports hidden services as well). In addition, Tor takes the directory-based approach - providing a centralized point to manage the overall ‘view’ of the network, as well as gather and report statistics, as opposed to I2P’s distributed network database and peer selection.
Motherboard’s Joseph Cox reports that right now the service is little more than a digital desert with very little to no activity at all. But in the coming days, weeks, months, that could all change.

The Deep Dark Web

Surprisingly there are some things that Google can’t reach, like the “Deep Web” - a seething matrix of encrypted websites, sometimes known as Tor, that allows users to surf beneath the everyday internet with complete anonymity. 

Tor, short for “The Onion Router”, was originally designed and implemented by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.  It consists of complex layers of encryption that allow users to use the internet without leaving a trace.

By anonymity, I mean pseudonyms that have no link to a viable IP address.  An IP address enables internet activity to be traced back to an individual computer. The Tor network conceals the IP address and the online activities of the respective user.

The “Deep Web” has existed for more than a decade and has been utilized by governmental agencies, individuals and industries. 

Journalists in oppressive countries who could face jail time or death, because of their reporting, need a way to deliver the news and remain confidential.

Law enforcement and military agencies use Tor to allow online surv

eillances and undercover operations to remain concealed, since their IP addresses cannot be traced or associated to a governmental agency.

Even normal, everyday internet users, concerned with privacy, such as targeted advertising (looking at a product for sale, and then seeing it in ad space in the future sites that you look at) use Tor.

The Deep Web came under the spotlight in January 2014 after the police shutdown of the “Silk Road” website; essentially an online marketplace dubbed the 'Amazon of drugs’ and arrested its creator, Ross Ulbricht.

Just because “Silk Road” has been taken down, this has done next to nothing to quell the rising tide of such illicit online exchanges, which are already jostling to fill the gap now left in this unregulated virtual world. 

It’s not just drugs. It’s best to think of these sites as bazars for illegal activity. You might be able to hire “hit men” or prostitutes, you can purchase guns, instructions on how to hack ATMs or how to build bombs.

Don’t expect to use your PayPal account here, these transactions are made using Bitcoin, in short, a crypto-currency that is not associated to any government regulated banks.

Soon enough, the days of the common street drug dealer will be over.  Not because the war on drugs has been won, but because the battlefield will have drastically changed.