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Bitcoin-Based Drug Market Silk Road Thriving With $2 Million In Monthly Sales 498

Posted by Soulskill
from the virtually-profitable dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Every day or so of the last six months, Carnegie Mellon computer security professor Nicolas Christin has crawled and scraped Silk Road, the Tor- and Bitcoin-based underground online market for illegal drug sales. Now Christin has released a paper (PDF) on his findings, which show that the site's business is booming: its number of sellers, who offer everything from cocaine to ecstasy, has jumped from around 300 in February to more than 550. Its total sales now add up to around $1.9 million a month. And its operators generate more than $6,000 a day in commissions for themselves, compared with around $2,500 in February. Most surprising, perhaps, is that buyers rate the sellers on the site as relatively trustworthy, despite the fact that no real identities are used. Close to 98% of ratings on the site are positive."
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Bitcoin-Based Drug Market Silk Road Thriving With $2 Million In Monthly Sales

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  • by Lashat (1041424) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @02:26PM (#40908687)

    You decide.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @03:15PM (#40909331)

    All the while destroying other people's lives while they're high

    Point conceded here. Some drugs do cause people to behave monstrously. And alcohol even more so.

    breaking into people's homes so they can steal to feed their habit

    Point NOT conceded. A great number of people are alcoholics. However, there is no great wave of crime due to alcoholics breaking into people's homes to steal their liquor and/or money to buy more alcohol. Why is this? Two reasons. First, it is legal and therefore, moderately cheap. If you can hold down a job, you can afford to be a drunk. Second, alcohol use is socially accepted, for the most part, and thus a boozer is more likely to be able to hold a job as long as he's not falling down drunk at work. This ability to hold a job, due to social acceptance, is what enables the drunk to continue to purchase alcohol without robbing people.

    You are allowing you anger to dictate possible solutions, instead of thinking about the actual outcomes. Would a death penalty on all drug traffickers actually cause a decrease in the amount of drugs consumed? That's nothing but a hypothesis. A mountain of evidence is available which suggests that the death penalty does nothing to deter criminals. They don't think they're going to get caught in the first place, so what matter is it what the punishment is? The death penalty gives you an adrenaline rush: "Justice, fuck yeah!" But that's all it does.

    You are obviously uninterested in actually solving the problem, and more interested in watching people die.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @03:22PM (#40909419)

    Sorry but diabetes and liver-failure is not a quick kill-all for alcohol addicts. They just get transplants or waste medical dollars.

    An alcoholic is highly unlikely to receive a liver transplant. They screwed up that organ of their own free will, therefore, we reserve these precious resources for people who suffer organ failure through no fault of their own. You are simply making shit up.

  • Re:For now. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SpeedBump0619 (324581) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @03:28PM (#40909501)

    So in theory I could acquire a good number of anonymous bitcoin and have my shiny new drugs drop shipped to an ex, or maybe some poor politician I disagree with. Or, I could just ship it directly to me and claim I was being targeted. Just, you know, *theoretically*.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @03:35PM (#40909611) Homepage Journal

    When I was in Thailand in 1974 there were only four drugs you couldn't buy in a pharmacy, and they were marijuana, cocaine, LSD and heroin. LSD and cocaine were completely unavailable, the place was awash with heroin and pot, and you needed no prescription for any other drug. Ecstasy might not have been invented then, but they had some amphetamines that one pill would keep you awake for two days straight. There was a salve available that was used for terminating pregnancies if the woman rubbed it on their belly button, or induce an out of body experience if you rubbed it on your temples. Quaaludes were available in pharmacies without a prescription as well.

    Oddly, although the country was awash with heroin, the only heroin addicts I ran across were all GIs.

  • Actually, no. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @03:46PM (#40909731)

    Well, then you criminalize the actual CRIME - driving while impaired

    When has criminalizing something actually stopped it from happening? Criminalizing and sentencing only exists to give victims some sense of justice, after it's all over and can never be undone.

    This is about *prevention*.

    Criminalizing something doesn't prevent it by way of disincentive. Swift, public punishment of perceived transgressors, however, does.

    The intent of the penal system is to demonstrate to the rest of society that those who transgress societies rules will be punished, and therefore deter future events by people other than the people being punished. It's kind of lost its value as a deterrent these days, at least in the U.S., since punishment is neither swift, nor is it public, and we take great pains to protect the rights of the accused, rather than the purpose of the process, which could care less if you occasionally string up the wrong person.

    We've also been steadily eroding available punishments for a while now, since anything you ban for a little bit is suddenly the "unusual" in "cruel and unusual", and enacting an "unusual" punishment is therefore "cruel". Depending on which side of Rousseau's argument you come down on, there's probably a certain level of "oops" that should be tolerable for the benefit of the larger society: "Bummer of a social contract you got there, Hal, thanks for fulfilling it for us, though...".

    Lest you think corporal punishment is no longer alive and kicking...

    In the rest of the world, it's pretty much alive and well, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caning_in_Singapore [wikipedia.org] which is a punishment on a par with public stocks in colonial U.S., or "birching", which was used as a punishment in British prisons through 1962 (and continued on the Isle of Man through 1976), and still in use in Trinidad. Jusicial Corporal Punish is still in use in 33 nations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_corporal_punishment [wikipedia.org] , and caning was still in use in schools in Britain and Wales until 1987 - 5 strokes for poor exam results. Paddling is still in use in schools in 22 U.S. States, 24 if you include Ohio (school board procedures require; parents may refuse) and Utah (with prior written permission to act in loco parentis - in place of the parent).

    And we seem to have no problems with waterboarding, although we try to do it under the cover of extraterritoriality.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @03:51PM (#40909813)

    1) Illegal drugs fund the CIA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_and_Contras_cocaine_trafficking_in_the_US). No possibility of corruption there, of course.
    2) Illegal drugs finance the banks (http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/06/29/us-banks-laundered-mexican-drug-money/), even helps them weather financial crises (http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2009/dec/13/drug-money-banks-saved-un-cfief-claims).
    3) Last, but not at ALL least, illegal drug money finances congressional campaigns (http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/10/18/gordon-duff-how-drug-money-is-buying-our-new-congress/).

    Illegal drugs! They feel good, taste good and they're so good for you! ...if you happen to be part of the world's money/power elite. This is why they'll never go away, and they'll never be legal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @03:55PM (#40909859)

    DUI laws stop people from drinking and driving. It used to be pretty common until it became a serious offense with serious punishments.

    Where do you live where drinking and driving is no longer 'pretty common'?

    Norway.

    Or rather, I used to live there, and drinking and driving was not at all common. The discussion was about whether it was OK to drive the next morning after drinking, not about whether it it was OK to have a few and then drive home. The tolerance was set at I think 0.02% - I remember that the net result is that an adult male can have about 1/2 of a pint of beer and be close to but not crossing the limit.

    Most everyone I know, often still pours a drink to go when driving out, and thinks nothing about drinking at bars, and then...well, you *do* have to get the car back home.

    Part of that is probably that the US limits are ridiculously high, and the punishments light. If I was caught at the US limit in Norway, I'd have to pay 1.5 times my gross monthly salary, I'd get a suspended prison sentence (probably a month or two), be a pedestrian for a year and a half, and have to re-do my driving test after the 18 months. And if I got busted again inside five years I'd permanently lose my driving license.

    And attitudes follow behavior. By increasing the punishments for this, people will do it a bit less, so they'll adjust their attitudes, and then the laws can be tightened a bit more. Norway did not start at limits and attitudes like the above, but have come there gradually. I think it's a good thing - drinking and driving don't belong together, and the limit has been put above where there is measurable impairment to driving skills - but it is not something I think can be introduced suddenly.

  • Re:98% (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @04:11PM (#40910115) Journal

    Drug dealers are the resistance in The War on Drugs.

    Actually, drug dealers are the ones hoping that the war on drugs continues, or they'll be out of work.

    This is seriously on-topic. I know a pot dealer/grower who is spending a good chunk of his income fighting against continued/expanded legalization and medical marijuana initiatives because the ones already in place in this state are financially crippling him. Suddenly he's no longer the long-haired hippie: he has a suit, short hair, and shows up at every local public meeting on zoning to argue that allowing marijuana dispensaries is immoral and a danger to our children. It's sort of funny to watch, although I'm also fairly pissed at him because I am personally in favor of medical marijuana being easily available.

  • by bjourne (1034822) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @04:13PM (#40910143) Homepage Journal
    Let's assume all other drugs are no more dangerous or costly for society than alcohol. Then if the cost for alcohol is X, and alcohol + N other drugs are legal, the total cost becomes (X+1)*N which is clearly much larger than X. It is a really stupid argument to say that "well other drugs aren't any more bad than alcohol, so they should be legal too!" because alcohol is bad enough.
  • Re:Actually, no. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @04:20PM (#40910225)

    The main question here is whether or not crime rates are lower in these countries, and they are not, to my knowledge. The Netherlands with its much laxer narcotics regime however is taking in prisoners from other countries because they haven't enough to fill their own.

  • by wisdom_brewing (557753) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @04:25PM (#40910287) Homepage
    There was once this fantastic little tea shop in a small village in Switzerland, did amazing business

    They specialized in Green Teas, had varieties from all over the world, extremely good quality and extremely expensive.

    You bought your tea and they gave you the choice of giving your address with a perculiar little tick box.

    You don't tick the box or don't give your address and you get a lovely little bag with nicely packed green tea.

    You do and a few hours later a courier delivers an Amazon package to your door (still don't know where they sourced THAT) containing a specific quantity of something else that was green.

    Great little business, too bad it's gone now... Owner apparently retired a very wealthy man.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @05:01PM (#40910611)

    Just one example (you can Google sources):

    1889: The John Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland, is opened. One of its world-famous founders, Dr. William Stewart Halsted, is a morphine addict. He continues to use morphine in large doses throughout his phenomenally successful surgical career lasting until his death in 1922.

    It is the extraordinary claim that morphine addiction is problematic that needs evidence. A century of puritans saying "drugs are bad" is not evidence.

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