Illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, opioid pills, Ecstasy and LSD are for sale through an online marketplace named Silk Road, which law enforcement officials have been unable to shut down.
Officials cannot track the location of the website’s servers, according to Newsday. Silk Road can only be accessed by using encryption software called Tor, which shields computers’ IP addresses, allowing people to make purchases anonymously.
Silk Road has facilitated more than $30 million in sales annually, law enforcement officials told the newspaper. It has been online since February 2011.
“Silk Road is a dangerous and destructive website that facilitates crime and poses a true danger to people across the country,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who in 2011 joined with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia in asking the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department to close and investigate Silk Road, named after the ancient Asian trade route.
The website also sells other illegal items, such as forged documents and untaxed cigarettes, the article notes.
The site does not use credit cards, instead relying on “Bitcoins,” an untraceable digital currency that is available through online currency exchange services. The website tells sellers to make shipments using vacuum-sealed bags so that drug-sniffing dogs will not detect the packages.
Officials told Newsday the government is using high-tech investigative methods, such as encryption-cracking technology, to help build a case against the website.