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More People Started Buying Drugs on the Darknet *After* Silk Road Shut Down

A global survey of 100,000 people shows Silk Road’s closure didn’t do much of anything.

The closure of Silk Road two years ago hasn't stopped people from buying drugs online. In fact, more people used the internet—specifically, the "dark web" not accessible by normal browsers—to procure narcotics last year than ever before, a new survey shows.

The FBI shuttered Silk Road in October 2013 and recently convicted its creator, Ross Ulbricht, to life imprisonment. The agency said it was the "most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the internet" and hope its closure would reduce illegal drug activity online.


Not so. The Global Drug Survey 2015, which is a yearly round up of the world's drug habits culled from 100,000 people in 50 countries, shows that more people are using the "darknet" to buy drugs.

People are turning to the internet because there's less of a threat of transaction turning violent, better quality of drugs, and the "removal of street dealing," respondents said. Nearly half of respondents said they use the dark web to buy the "same range" of drugs, while a third said they consumer a "wider range" of drugs.

Ecstasy powder, LSD, and MDMA pills were the top three drugs people bought online. While weed (hydro, herbal and resin, respectively) landed in fourth through sixth spots, cocaine was the seventh most popular drug purchased.

In 2014, 25 percent said that was the first year they bought drugs online—a 9 percent increase from the year prior.

Of note, three of the four top places where people admitted to buying drugs online were from Scandinavian countries leading the researchers to write that "zero tolerance drug policies can drive people who like drugs to other sources." The United States was in seventh place.