If the fed’s crackdown on online drug marketplace Silk Road teaches us anything (and, oh boy, does it), it teaches us that life on the Web really is just like real life.
Just like when the cops clear the dealers off one corner in the neighborhood and they pop up on another, there are apparently plenty of alternative online sites to score a couple of rocks or a couple of grams of coke.
Leonid Bershidsky, writing for Bloomberg, has a provocative take on the whole idea of eBay for drug addicts, which makes the good point that the war on drugs is a big time loser.
(Can I point out here that Silk Road’s alleged mastermind, Ross William Ulbricht, of San Francisco, was not the sharpest criminal out there, according to court documents cited by CNN? The guy posted his Gmail address online! What was it? Comeandarrestme@gmail.com?)
Bershidsky points readers to Sheep Marketplace, which is essentially Silk Road in sheep’s clothing. It bills itself as “an illegal, anonymous marketplace for drugs, weapons, alcohol, cigarettes……….and much more…”
And I’m thinking: What more could you need?
Seriously dude, I’m way out of it when it comes to scoring coke online. I actually had no clue you could buy drugs “and much more” online (other than the ads pushing drugs on Craigslist. I mean, Craigslist? Really?).
But, hey, learn something new every day.
“Sheep Marketplace had the nostalgic look and feel of the now-defunct Silk Road,” Bershidsky writes. “Items on the first page of the drug section, by far the biggest on the site, included “2g Pentedrone Special sale + free sample MXE” and “28 g *Super Tasty* Lemon Haze!! High Grade.” The “services” section included, among other things, a list of alternatives to Sheep Marketplace itself — for $4.15.”
You gotta love this country.
I’m not likely to do my drug shopping online any time soon. It apparently involves something called a Tor browser and an onion.com domain and Bitcoin – all of which is beyond me. And I’m thinking I probably can’t call our IT guys for help with this one.
So, clean and sober it is. Well, clean, anyway.
And it turns out that even if you don’t think you’re leaving a big, fat digital trail for the authorities to follow, you probably are.
Still up for living on the edge and diving into the dark, murky online drug underworld? Bershidsky’s piece, which calls for decriminalization of illicit drugs, offers some helpful tips.
“I set up an account for one today. It is called Sheep Marketplace, and, like Silk Road, it is available via Tor, an anonymous encrypted network originally designed for the U.S. Navy and still used by it. The Tor software package is freely available on the Web. I used the Tor browser to go to a site with the suffix .onion, which would not be available to commonly used browsers, and registered as a customer. (To set up a virtual stall as a vendor, I would have had to pay $149 in Bitcoin.)”
There you have it. Knock yourself out.
(Screen grab of Silk Road by the Associated Press)