When Silk Road, the infamous site created by Ross Ulbricht was shutdown in October last year, it was expected that the online anonymous ?agora? that is used by criminals to sell drugs, would cease to function and that the sales of illegal pharmaceuticals would also be curbed in countries where it is active ( see our previous post – ? Online Criminal Genius Creator of Silk Road Caught Because of Posting Gmail Addy? at : https://www.thebitbag.com/2013/10/07/online-criminal-genius-creator-silk-road-caught-posting-gmail-addy/ )
However, the arrest of Ulbricht not only failed to curb the illegal online drug trade, it even made it worse. Police and crime analysts say that just like what happens when a crime syndicate leader or group falls, the vacuum is filled by other contenders. In this case, other global online marketplaces ? from Silk Road 2.0 and other similar groups using the same system, has taken over the trade.
A researcher at the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society of the University of Melbourne, Mr. Robbie Fordyce put it quite succinctly and I quote: ? The only way I can think about it is like when you have a spider?s nest in your house and you hit it with a rake and then suddenly you?ve got spiders everywhere…..They?re not particularly significant in and of themselves, but by destabilizing the first Silk Road has just meant there was an existing market for the new Silk Roads and their equivalents to pop up again.?
These Silk Road ?copycats? have successfully evaded police authorities around the world by using the ?Tor? network which allows those who use the network to browse what they call the ?dark web? in an anonymous manner. Upon purchasing via the network, they conclude the transaction by using ?Bitcoin?, a digital virtual currency that also allows anonymity among its users (see our previous post on Bitcoin – ? Bitcoin : The Rise And Risk of Virtual Currency? at: https://www.thebitbag.com/2013/11/18/bitcoin-rise-risk-virtual-currency/ ).
However, even if international police seem to be stumped with the resurgence of these ?Silk Roads?, some positive results have been accomplished in Australia that can be ?copied? in other places. On the 20th of December, a team of international police operatives arrested three individuals who are accused of helping Ulbricht with the operation of Silk Road. These persons, which included a man from Brisbane, Mr. Peter Phillip Nash, supposedly masterminded the growth of Silk Road despite the arrest of the syndicate leader. Hence, the term Silk Road 2.0.
Australian authorities revealed that the usual police methods employed by Australian authorities combined with proper coordination with international agencies have generated positive results in limiting the transport and distribution of illegal drugs obtained through the ?Silk Road? type of online transactions. It is reported that many international retailers of illegal drugs have refused to ship to Australia because of the successful blocking of drug shipments and arrests of those involved in the distribution.
This however has brought a rise in the number of Australian based drug traders who are again filling up the gap that has resulted from the lack of international shipments. Reports reveal that there are approximately at least 43 groups operating in Australia that provides a number of illegal drugs including LSD, steroids, marijuana and methamphetamine.
Well, one step at a time…..
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