Other illegal websites remain in business, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) earlier this week shut down Silk Road, an online marketplace that sold illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, opioid pills, Ecstasy and LSD.
Competition for online sales of illegal drugs seems to be thriving, according to Time.com. Two sites, Black Market Reloaded and The Sheep Marketplace, offer everything from marijuana to Ecstasy to firearms, the article notes. Both sites use encryption software such as Tor, which shields computers’ IP addresses, allowing people to make purchases anonymously. Silk Road also used Tor.
The FBI identified Silk Road’s owner, and located its servers, but it appears the agency did not compromise the basic infrastructure that allowed the site to operate. Tor said in a statement, “We’ve been watching carefully to try to learn if there are any flaws with Tor that we need to correct. So far, nothing about this case makes us think that there are new ways to compromise Tor (the software or the network). The FBI says that their suspect made mistakes in operational security, and was found through actual detective work.”
Investigators found the man who created Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, 29, who used his personal e-mail account in early efforts to promote the website.
Silk Road did not use credit cards, instead relying on “Bitcoins,” an untraceable digital currency that is available through online currency exchange services. The website told sellers to make shipments using vacuum-sealed bags so that drug-sniffing dogs would not detect the packages.