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silkroadseize1Imagine you are trying to buy drugs. Maybe you meet your dealer in a back alley or on a street corner in a less than desirable neighborhood. When most people imagine how someone would buy something illegal, these are the thoughts that come to mind. However, the internet has made it possible for new and different ways for people to purchase illegal drugs. There are numerous legitimate websites where people may list illegal items and services, but most of these transactions are easily traced. There are also many different web bazaars, which were built purely to host illegal transactions and which promise more anonymity and a larger range of illicit items.

          Recently one of the more well-known websites, the Silk Road, was shut down by the U.S. government. Forbes writer Alex Konrad provided information about the Silk Road website, including the the name of the site creator and a brief background, in his article. The Silk Road creator went by the alias “The Dread Pirate Roberts”, but his full name is Ross William Ulbrict (pictured below).

          Ulbrict is 29 years old and ran the website, which included software that masked the location of the user’s internet connection. Instead of dollars, the site used the currency ‘bitcoins’ to allow people to purchase illegal items. The U.S. government estimated the website generated over $1 billion dollars in revenue since it launched. The Silk Road was known for the illegal drug sales it hosted, but it was also contained other items for sale such as software, social media hacks, currency, and even firearms.

          The Silk Road website was not completely anonymous, according to the Forbes article. There were weaknesses in the service which were exposed when a Forbes journalist purchased marijuana to test the effectiveness of the website. The journalist was able to trace the seller and found that the purchase could also be traced back to the buyer.
          Although there are many different ways to purchase illegal drugs, there is still a huge risk involved. Taking drugs, especially those purchased online, is very dangerous because the user never knows exactly what they are getting. Buying and using drugs continues to be a serious issue in the USA and in other countries.
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