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Traveling Down the Silk Road to Buy Drugs With Bitcoins

There simply must be a more dignified way to procure illegal substances.
June 24, 2011, 8:13pm

There simply must be a more dignified way to procure illegal substances.

Because drugs are often against the law, most people who are willing to sell them are weirdos you don’t particularly want to be around. Plus, after a certain age, it’s super-uncomfortable to go to the bombed-out house next your old high school and sit in a living room watching Adventure Time, while a guy in pajamas weighs out “this total primo stuff, man,” as you try your damnedest not to look directly at the pot of rancid Annie’s mac and cheese sitting on the coffee table.

When I heard about an anonymous, digital way to sell drugs via bitcoins,, the supposedly untraceable Internet currency, my curiosity was piqued. My journalistic curiosity, of course. And luckily, I knew just the person to talk to: a gentleman who was harvesting bitcoins on his school’s computer lab.

The online, anonymous, bitcoin-backed marketplace that’s been getting a lot of heat lately is called the Silkroad. A website that senator Chuck Schumer, fresh off his attack on Four Loko, called “a certifiable one-stop shop for illegal drugs.”. Accessing this anonymous drug market isn’t as easy as Googling it, but once you’re in, users are greeted with a drug-buying experience that is unmatched, and surprisingly simple.

Here’s how to purchase drugs anonymously with bitcoins from the Silkroad:

Step 1 – Download a Tor client

Tor isn’t just the tool of choice for Internet-savvy dissidents and Wikileakers: it’s also your passport to the underbelly of the web. It’s an ingenious little application that essentially masks a user’s IP address as different IP addresses, allowing you to switch your address whenever you so choose. It also allows you to access .onion sites, which make up the main topography of something called the Deep Web (which you can also refer to as Deepnet, the invisible Web, DarkNet, Undernet, or the hidden Web).

It’s part of the Internet, but it’s comprised of sites that aren’t indexed by search engines and take some fanaggling to find. Who uses the deep web? Mainly hackers, libertarians, and child pornographers – that and open-web enthusiasts, but mainly hackers, libertarians, and child pornographers. Some researchers believe it’s almost three times the size of the standard web. It’s like the Internet is an iceberg, and below the surface of the water are DIY Russian submarines with armed with digital missiles pointed at the world’s governments.

Step 2 – Finding a website that can find the Silkroad

Like the digital equivalent of asking a guy to ask his guy to hook you up with his friend who’s selling the best stuff at the party, that’s what finding the Silkroad is like. One of the easiest ways for new customers to find the site is to find a directory that can find a better directory that can link you to it. And down the rabbit hole we go! I’m sorry I can’t help you out more here, but you know, just being cool.

Step 3 – Welcome to the Amazon of drugs and weapons

So as stated above, our source for this trek into the deep web had already set up an account with the Silkroad, luckily minutes before the site closed registration in response to the flood of traffic from the Gizmodo article.. He was also nice enough to give us 2.96 of his bitcoins to play around with.

When you log in, you’re greeted with something wholly underwhelming, but also pretty surreal. The drugs are broken down by category and then at the bottom they list the top-rated vendors. That’s right: not only is this place an anonymous marketplace for drugs and weapons, it also allows you to rate your vendor and leave comments for other users. Kind of like Yelp.

The Silkroad is almost exclusively for drugs, but there are some other interesting categories, like home and garden:

Which I’d assume is for growing drugs. Even more strange though, and without any drug-related explanation, there was a food section:

Step 4 – So let’s buy our drugs

We decided we’d buy acid. It’s small, easily transportable, and the prices being offered at the time weren’t outrageous: it came out to about $5 for a tab of high quality acid. A good value. (Not that we’d know.) We found a vendor named “Turtle Power” who had pretty good ratings, and it was as simple as pressing “add to cart.”

Or so we thought. Around the same time we submitted our purchase order for “125u/g White on White 5x” something completely out of our control was happening elsewhere in the bitcoin market. Massive attacks from hackers were making trading pretty dicey. And ultimately, we received a message from Silkroad admins that our trusty, well-reviewed dealer, Turtle Power, had backed out. Our bitcoins were then refunded, further proof that the Silkroad is oddly legitimate when it comes to their illegitimate business.

Given the increasingly insane instability of the bitcoin market, trading remains a risk. If our deal hadn’t gone bad, our drugs would have been discreetly mailed via US postal service to an address of our choice.

The bitcoin market as it stands now

A lot of people on the Internet are saying that the bitcoin bubble has burst.. Meanwhile, Mt Gox, the compromised bitcoin central exchange, is reporting that 10-percent of users are slowly coming back to their accounts. We’re still in the early days of virtual currency markets; the test of bitcoins as an economic force is how quickly the bitcoin community bounces back and patches security holes after attacks like this.

Some takeaways: Don’t go into the deep-web if you don’t know what your doing. We stumbled upon child pornography within minutes of exploring different sites. Also, buying and shipping drugs is still illegal. While the Silkroad is an attractive alternative to real-life drug trafficking, the economy it’s based on is pretty flimsy. So perhaps, for now, if you’re looking for drugs, stay with the guy in the pajamas watching Spongebob and eating SpaghettiOs, yapping about those “research chemicals” he just bought – off eBay.

Bitcoin, Used to Purchase Illegal Things, Has Been Illegally Stolen
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