While I would like to see the creators of south park try their hands at a sequel unfortunately the reality isn’t reading much like a comedy these days and more like a horror story.
While many people seem happy to blame Ross Ulbricht’s security shortcomings for the downfall of Silk Road, If you look at things from a purely historical point of view there is only one golden rule that stands out and that is if you want your online illegal marketplace to survive and prosper don’t deal in the U.S. of A. While that may sound more like a threat handed down by a Mexican drug cartel over the past few days I’ve been digging deeper into online drug marketplaces which HAVE stood the test of time since to me George Santayana said it best, who, in his book The Life of Reason, wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
I’m also well aware thirty percent of Silk Roads clients are now thinking “Well what about us”, and I would be a fool to think after Silk Road demonstrated the sheer profitability of selling drugs beneath Uncle Sam’s nose that people would ever turn their back on the US market but perhaps different times call for different approaches, If I was a budding darknet entrepreneur (all puns intended) and wanted to reduce my risk exposure I’d consider setting up a marketplace that deals ONLY in cannabis and cannabis derived products since you have to remember the US government is still somewhat accountable to its own people and given their reluctance to impose federal law on states which have already decriminalized sale and possession along with the fact that for the first time ever a majority of Americans support legalizing the use of marijuana there is reason to believe they might not bother spending two years investigating your online pot market epically when trends suggest more and more states will continue to decriminalize/legalize.
If you look at the current big two marketplaces, Sheep and Black Market Reloaded it’s clear cannabis makes up about 25% of all drug listings and during my time with Atlantis Marketplace It seemed apparent the figure for actual sales was closer to 40%
Internet sites who have gone this route have suffered mixed fortunes such as the Canadian “Prince of Pot”, Marc Emery who was indicted in 2005 for selling his cannabis seeds to American customers but wasn’t extradited to the U.S. until May 2010, Even the U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez said at the time that there was no doubt Emery’s actions were criminal, and the pot activist ensured others broke the law, too, by selling them seeds.
It appears things have moved on since then as Emery is now due for early release in 2014 even though documents released now show his arrest by the DEA was more of a political than criminal one since he was a figurehead for the Marijuana Legalization Organization as well as publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine who gave all their profits to US and Canadian marijuana legalization groups. Considering it now seems Emery’s legalization efforts may actually have worked to some degree in the USA I’m sure the last thing DEA officials would have wanted is another popular anti prohibition figurehead getting featured in Forbes and other such publications. Whether it was for his message of libertarianism and personal freedom or facilitation the movement of class A drugs there is no doubt in my mind Dread Pirate Roberts astute views and code of ethics played their part in his downfall.
If you want to know exactly how successful a policy of not dealing to US clients can be you only need to type “Mail Order Marijuana (MoM)” into your favorite search engine and hit search. From my investigations it seems Budmail.biz is the longest running example of a large-scale public drug marketplace offering various strains of cannabis and magic mushrooms and there are many more sites that will ship stateside but wish to stay under the radar so I won’t publish names.
What’s remarkable is according to their DNS records and a cannabis culture thread they have been operating since 2004 (currently from a server in Amsterdam) without requiring TOR or cryptocurrency support to stay online and even appear to handle the drug distribution themselves. In that same thread the owner of the site states their policy of not shipping to the USA
“I have nothing personal against Americans, just their government. I know the DEA has agents based in my Canadian city, and I don’t want to have them scrutinze my service. I don’t want to be extradited either! It’s just easier to exclude you guys. Sorry! “
Which makes me consider the point, Will SilkRoad2.0 consist of several more SilkRoad-esque sites with vendors and buyers choosing a platform or could it be wiser in the long term for sites to focus on a niece that suits their skill-set with those selling “Hard drugs to USA” requiring highest levels of stealth and security allowing other “less illegal” markets to potentially thrive so long as they don’t poke the bear that is Uncle Sam or will people always flock to the market perceived as most secure? I guess time will tell and for those who are more curious I’ve posted a screenshot of the Budmail interface below.