Special delivery: Getting drugs posted through your door

Drugs delivered via the Silk Road website

Drugs delivered via the Silk Road website

First published in News Exclusive by

Drug dealers are working in the open on the internet then delivering their illicit parcels through users post boxes.

Instead of skulking on shady street corners, drug users can now order up their weekend supply of cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA and other Class A drugs from the click of a mouse.

Then sit back and wait for their neatly parcelled packages of pills and powders to drop through the letter box.

But for an increasing number of clubbers and drug users across Brighton and Hove, ordering class A drugs is as easy as buying a DVD.

Welcome to the online drugs marketplace of Silk Road.

Silk Road is an online marketplace like eBay, complete with buyers and sellers, dispute and resolution services, feedback ratings and a thriving online community. The only difference is instead of selling toys, books, games and CDs.

It sells illicit and illegal drugs – and Brighton and Hove drug users are clocking on to the idea.

Brighton clubber Sam, 24, not his real name, excitedly showed our reporter around the bizarre community of drug buyers and sellers who frequent the website.

He finds his most trusted drug dealer and brings up a list of all his available stock.

He says: “This guy is good for cocaine and MDMA. He has good feedback from other Silk Road users and is reliable with discreet deliveries.

"There’s a group of us from Brighton who always order stuff online, it’s safer than going out to a dodgy car park somewhere.”

Cocaine and MDMA

Sam selects his favourite recreational drugs and his virtual basket is stocked with a gram of cocaine and two grams of MDMA – the pure form of ecstasy. He hits the checkout button, enters his address and pays 65 Bitcoins – an untraceable digital currency worth about £200.

“All done,” he says. “It should arrive at my house within a week or so, meaning I‘ll be stocked up for a good night out next weekend. More and more people I know in Brighton are now coming onto Silk Road to order their stuff. It’s just so much easier and I know the quality of the stuff I order isn’t going to be compromised.”

Sam’s favourite Silk Road seller is just one of hundreds of drug dealers who are brazenly selling anything from cannabis and LSD to cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs and ecstasy.

The website is accessed via an easy-to-use programme called Tor which enables people to remain anonymous online. The software re-routes users through a worldwide volunteer network of servers to conceal their location, meaning whatever they do online is untraceable.

Michael, again not his real name, also uses Silk Road to purchase drugs. The 30-year-old DJ and music producer from Hove discovered the website seven months ago.

He says: “I was shocked at how easy it was at first. I was used to having to call friends of friends to try and sort stuff [drugs] out but now I just go online and wait. There’s quite a decent community on there with some intelligent people, it’s not full of druggies like some people would think.

“Why would I want to try and score from some dodgy dealer in a nightclub in Brighton when I can just get it delivered to my doorstep? It’s a no-brainer.

"There is an online community forum on Silk Road where you can discuss orders and deliveries with other users. I know of people on the forum who are from Sussex although I haven’t met them personally.”

In an investigation by a computer security professor in America earlier this year it was estimated that Silk Road boasts an annual sales figure of £14 million. The question asked then, is why haven’t the authorities done anything about it? The answer is they can’t.

Computer experts

Numerous computer experts and government figures have consistently admitted defeat when it comes to Silk Road and the Tor programme that supports it. One US government official last year is quoted as saying they have "no chance of beating existing encryption technology such as the Tor network".

When The Argus paid a second visit to Sam six days later. He opens the front door of his house with a Cheshire-cat like smile and drops a couple of unassuming packages on the table.

“Here it is. Just in time for a session on the town,” he says.

He unwraps the vacuum-packed parcels and makes his way through to his prize. The deliveries are cleverly packaged and it takes a minute or two to access the goods inside. When he finally opens it up, a bag of white powder inside a plastic ‘baggy’ is inside.

“This is the best cocaine seller on Silk Road at the moment I think. He’s always getting good feedback about the quality and the speed of delivery. It’s so much cleaner than coke I’ve bought in Brighton.

"You never know what it’s cut with down here. This stuff’s always good for a night out as it saves you money on drink as well,” he says.

Sam says he’s not concerned about his parcels being intercepted by the authorities.

“It’s not as if I’m buying tonnes of this stuff to flog on the street,” he says. “I’m not some big time gangster dealer, I only buy one or two things for personal use. I’m just a normal guy with a job, who pays my taxes, who wants to ensure I buy clean drugs.

"If I’m ordering one or two things in a package like this then it won’t get picked up by the postal guys. I reckon if I started ordering loads of stuff though in massive packages then yeah it would probably mean trouble.”

A spokesman from Brighton drug charity CRI has warned the users of Silk Road to be cautious.

He said: “Traditionally, the Class A drugs market in Brighton is based on face-to-face meetings and it’s fairly open, but this news just adds another worrying dimension to that. I would warn users of the website to really think about what you’re doing.

“You don’t know what it is you’re buying or what it’s been cut with. It exposes people to a high level of risk.

"We of course don’t advocate the purchase or use of drugs, but if you are going to then make sure it’s from a trusted source. We will do our best to work with our colleagues at Sussex Police and the health services to help raise awareness of this.”

They could be a source of ill health or fatal injury

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said the company does not knowingly carry any illegal items through their network, but where they do have suspicious that prohibited items are being sent through the system, they work closely with the police.

They added. “For obvious reasons, we are not able to give any further details about our security measures as this would compromise our operations.”

Sussex Police said they were unaware of the Silk Road operation and they had no reports or intelligence of drugs being delivered to people’s homes.

A force spokeswoman said: “Sussex Police welcomes any intelligence with regard to the supply of illicit drugs, which are a constant threat to our community, it’s a timely reminder that any drugs whether bought in person on the street or internet will come from dubious origin.

“No one knows what is in these substances and they could be a potential source of ill health or even fatal injury. Any information concerning the supply of illicit drugs can be given in confidence to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

 

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Comments (18)

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2:04pm Mon 19 Nov 12

brighton-breezy says...

'Sussex Police said they were unaware of the Silk Road operation and they had no reports or intelligence of drugs being delivered to people’s homes.'

Really!?!?! come on Sussex Police, how can you not have known about this! Silkroad has been reported on many times and a quick google search will find news reports dating back over a year. Is it any wonder Sussex Police get so much flack when they say this sort of thing! or is it simply a 'we don't see it, therefore it is not happening' approach?
'Sussex Police said they were unaware of the Silk Road operation and they had no reports or intelligence of drugs being delivered to people’s homes.' Really!?!?! come on Sussex Police, how can you not have known about this! Silkroad has been reported on many times and a quick google search will find news reports dating back over a year. Is it any wonder Sussex Police get so much flack when they say this sort of thing! or is it simply a 'we don't see it, therefore it is not happening' approach? brighton-breezy
  • Score: 0

2:09pm Mon 19 Nov 12

Luke72 says...

What a great advert for the Silk Road website. Wonder how many more people will try to use it now they've read this?
What a great advert for the Silk Road website. Wonder how many more people will try to use it now they've read this? Luke72
  • Score: 0

2:25pm Mon 19 Nov 12

NickBrt says...

They're paying using 'bitcoins'. is that why Caroline Lucas wants to start up brighton currency so she can get people ordering drugs online? She advocates legalising all drugs doesn't she?
They're paying using 'bitcoins'. is that why Caroline Lucas wants to start up brighton currency so she can get people ordering drugs online? She advocates legalising all drugs doesn't she? NickBrt
  • Score: -1

2:34pm Mon 19 Nov 12

Crystal Ball says...

Just say no.
Just say no. Crystal Ball
  • Score: -1

2:46pm Mon 19 Nov 12

Charismatic Andrew says...

brighton-breezy wrote:
'Sussex Police said they were unaware of the Silk Road operation and they had no reports or intelligence of drugs being delivered to people’s homes.'

Really!?!?! come on Sussex Police, how can you not have known about this! Silkroad has been reported on many times and a quick google search will find news reports dating back over a year. Is it any wonder Sussex Police get so much flack when they say this sort of thing! or is it simply a 'we don't see it, therefore it is not happening' approach?
Of course it will all change now with our directly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner. Drop Katy Bourne an email - visit www.katybourne.com - that's what she's there for - make her earn her £85k a year!
[quote][p][bold]brighton-breezy[/bold] wrote: 'Sussex Police said they were unaware of the Silk Road operation and they had no reports or intelligence of drugs being delivered to people’s homes.' Really!?!?! come on Sussex Police, how can you not have known about this! Silkroad has been reported on many times and a quick google search will find news reports dating back over a year. Is it any wonder Sussex Police get so much flack when they say this sort of thing! or is it simply a 'we don't see it, therefore it is not happening' approach?[/p][/quote]Of course it will all change now with our directly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner. Drop Katy Bourne an email - visit www.katybourne.com - that's what she's there for - make her earn her £85k a year! Charismatic Andrew
  • Score: 0

3:09pm Mon 19 Nov 12

uniteagainstparkingcharges says...

I was previously unaware of Silk Road but when reading about this website online, I came across this interesting point about the wider implications of anonymous market places:

"Silk Road, and its future competitors, will come under severe attack in the coming years. At the moment, the goods and services to be found on Silk Road are limited. But this is only because it is in its infancy. While psychedelic drugs and fully automatic rifles may seem wonderfully shocking at the moment, we must not limit our imaginations.

I fully suspect that other, more revolutionary, services will come about in time. Surely, professional assassins will offer their services as well. I believe this could open the door to contracts being put out on the lives of corrupt politicians, judges and police officers. After all, the idea of assassination markets has been floating around in anarchist circles for some time. Regardless of whether or not you condone violent insurrection against the state or state officials, these markets seem to me to be very likely to happen in the near future.

What other goods and services do you think are likely to pop up in an anonymous marketplace? I would love to read your ideas below."

Source: http://dailyanarchis
t.com/2011/06/21/how
-and-why-to-get-to-s
ilk-road/

Personally, I find the idea of these black market sites abhorrent but if these sites are as anonymous and secure as the information I have read would lead me to believe (including the information contained within this article), then I do not know what the authorities would be able to do to prevent the more serious criminal offences from occurring.

Is it any wonder governments are increasingly concerned by cybercrime/ terrorism?
I was previously unaware of Silk Road but when reading about this website online, I came across this interesting point about the wider implications of anonymous market places: "Silk Road, and its future competitors, will come under severe attack in the coming years. At the moment, the goods and services to be found on Silk Road are limited. But this is only because it is in its infancy. While psychedelic drugs and fully automatic rifles may seem wonderfully shocking at the moment, we must not limit our imaginations. I fully suspect that other, more revolutionary, services will come about in time. Surely, professional assassins will offer their services as well. I believe this could open the door to contracts being put out on the lives of corrupt politicians, judges and police officers. After all, the idea of assassination markets has been floating around in anarchist circles for some time. Regardless of whether or not you condone violent insurrection against the state or state officials, these markets seem to me to be very likely to happen in the near future. What other goods and services do you think are likely to pop up in an anonymous marketplace? I would love to read your ideas below." Source: http://dailyanarchis t.com/2011/06/21/how -and-why-to-get-to-s ilk-road/ Personally, I find the idea of these black market sites abhorrent but if these sites are as anonymous and secure as the information I have read would lead me to believe (including the information contained within this article), then I do not know what the authorities would be able to do to prevent the more serious criminal offences from occurring. Is it any wonder governments are increasingly concerned by cybercrime/ terrorism? uniteagainstparkingcharges
  • Score: 0

4:13pm Mon 19 Nov 12

Maxwell's Ghost says...

When I receive a bag of talcum powder, can I complain to Trading Standards or are the dealers registered with Check a Trade?
When I receive a bag of talcum powder, can I complain to Trading Standards or are the dealers registered with Check a Trade? Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: -3

5:33pm Mon 19 Nov 12

Nitrous_McBread says...

What a great idea - a source for drugs where users can inform other users about the quality they're receiving and thereby stop dodgy suppliers trying to cut their potions and powders with brick dust or some other rubbish.

Now all we need is a government with enough balls to take the profits out of the hands of the criminal gangs and into the hands of the exchequer, so no-one will need to cut benefits for nursery school kids and terminal cancer patients.

The only difference for the user intent on purchasing drugs is that, once legal and restricted to shop opening hours, they'll be a little harder to find.
What a great idea - a source for drugs where users can inform other users about the quality they're receiving and thereby stop dodgy suppliers trying to cut their potions and powders with brick dust or some other rubbish. Now all we need is a government with enough balls to take the profits out of the hands of the criminal gangs and into the hands of the exchequer, so no-one will need to cut benefits for nursery school kids and terminal cancer patients. The only difference for the user intent on purchasing drugs is that, once legal and restricted to shop opening hours, they'll be a little harder to find. Nitrous_McBread
  • Score: 1

6:43pm Mon 19 Nov 12

beardy_gull says...

See the Daily Heil has nicked your story...http://www.d
ailymail.co.uk/news/
article-2235199/The-
eBay-drugs-Silk-Road
-website-allows-drug
-users-buy-heroin-ca
nnabis-mail-order-wo
rld.html Great journalism by Martin Robinson.
See the Daily Heil has nicked your story...http://www.d ailymail.co.uk/news/ article-2235199/The- eBay-drugs-Silk-Road -website-allows-drug -users-buy-heroin-ca nnabis-mail-order-wo rld.html Great journalism by Martin Robinson. beardy_gull
  • Score: 0

9:04pm Mon 19 Nov 12

jesss2012 says...

Seriously...nothing like a bit of advertising lol. how many more people will now use it??
Seriously...nothing like a bit of advertising lol. how many more people will now use it?? jesss2012
  • Score: 0

10:05pm Mon 19 Nov 12

ARealBessie says...

NickBrt wrote:
They're paying using 'bitcoins'. is that why Caroline Lucas wants to start up brighton currency so she can get people ordering drugs online? She advocates legalising all drugs doesn't she?
Nice observation.
One minute Caroline's urging us all to think about the potential of an alternative currency, and... hey presto today we have the entire front page of the Argus sensationally devoted to informing the masses how easy it is to buy drugs online!
Actually, it's not so simple as every crack/smack and pothead rushing off to Silkroad for the first time will discover. The key catch is that all hidden services on Tor (such as Silkroad) trade in bitcoins. Bitcoin is a new cyber currency and the closest thing to electronic cash.

After this article, my guess is that within a year most middle class BHC drug users will be happily trading their bitcoins, and the idea of an alternative currency (especially one which bankers can't control) won't seem such an alien concept at all. There are some big problems with Bitcoin (extreme fluctuations in exchange rates for one thing) but as currencies go, its genuinely revolutionary. Unlike the 'Brighton Pound', I'm all for it and think it'll take off regardless of what our politicians do or don't do about it.
[quote][p][bold]NickBrt[/bold] wrote: They're paying using 'bitcoins'. is that why Caroline Lucas wants to start up brighton currency so she can get people ordering drugs online? She advocates legalising all drugs doesn't she?[/p][/quote]Nice observation. One minute Caroline's urging us all to think about the potential of an alternative currency, and... hey presto today we have the entire front page of the Argus sensationally devoted to informing the masses how easy it is to buy drugs online! Actually, it's not so simple as every crack/smack and pothead rushing off to Silkroad for the first time will discover. The key catch is that all hidden services on Tor (such as Silkroad) trade in bitcoins. Bitcoin is a new cyber currency and the closest thing to electronic cash. After this article, my guess is that within a year most middle class BHC drug users will be happily trading their bitcoins, and the idea of an alternative currency (especially one which bankers can't control) won't seem such an alien concept at all. There are some big problems with Bitcoin (extreme fluctuations in exchange rates for one thing) but as currencies go, its genuinely revolutionary. Unlike the 'Brighton Pound', I'm all for it and think it'll take off regardless of what our politicians do or don't do about it. ARealBessie
  • Score: 0

10:53pm Mon 19 Nov 12

ARealBessie says...

To anyone now considering buying drugs off Silkroad thanks to this irresponsible and frankly manipulative article...
A couple more catches worth thinking about:
1) Although the Tor network itself is anonymous, it's easy for the average computer user to break their own anonymity within the network due to security breaches elsewhere on his/her computer. In other words, unless you've got some security savvy about you, don't go off joyriding down Silkroad imagining you'll be all safe and sound. Silkroad is in a very bad neighbourhood (See point 2).

2) Tor is essentially the gateway into the darkweb (or deepnet as its also known). This is the wild, wild west. In the darkweb, anything and everything goes... Be very, very cautious about what links you hit on.

3) Browsing in Tor mode is very slow going (even if you've got a fast network connection.) Expect frequent timeouts.
To anyone now considering buying drugs off Silkroad thanks to this irresponsible and frankly manipulative article... A couple more catches worth thinking about: 1) Although the Tor network itself is anonymous, it's easy for the average computer user to break their own anonymity within the network due to security breaches elsewhere on his/her computer. In other words, unless you've got some security savvy about you, don't go off joyriding down Silkroad imagining you'll be all safe and sound. Silkroad is in a very bad neighbourhood (See point 2). 2) Tor is essentially the gateway into the darkweb (or deepnet as its also known). This is the wild, wild west. In the darkweb, anything and everything goes... Be very, very cautious about what links you hit on. 3) Browsing in Tor mode is very slow going (even if you've got a fast network connection.) Expect frequent timeouts. ARealBessie
  • Score: -2

9:08am Tue 20 Nov 12

seagully says...

This appears to be irasponsible reporting. Yes drugs are available on the streets if you know where to find them but I wonder how many kids who were not aware will be borrowing their parents credit cards to order some goods now. Of course drug uses will know about this site it's for them but it's not strange that most people are not aware or at least we're not aware. This article could have been just as impactive without naming the site. We expect Police to be out catching drug dealers and not be in the office etc, throw in a system like this and it will require more back office Police roles meaning less cops on the beat. Not being a drug user or a drinker I find the whole scene strange but I understand that some people would like to use narcotics for medical reasons etc but waving this in the face of kids is criminal.
This appears to be irasponsible reporting. Yes drugs are available on the streets if you know where to find them but I wonder how many kids who were not aware will be borrowing their parents credit cards to order some goods now. Of course drug uses will know about this site it's for them but it's not strange that most people are not aware or at least we're not aware. This article could have been just as impactive without naming the site. We expect Police to be out catching drug dealers and not be in the office etc, throw in a system like this and it will require more back office Police roles meaning less cops on the beat. Not being a drug user or a drinker I find the whole scene strange but I understand that some people would like to use narcotics for medical reasons etc but waving this in the face of kids is criminal. seagully
  • Score: 1

10:47am Tue 20 Nov 12

Stoves says...

Yahoo! Thanks for letting me know, i am sick of being ripped of on the street.

1st order placed, just wait now :)

I is going to be a high Stovie Pie running up and down west street naked this weekend!!
Yahoo! Thanks for letting me know, i am sick of being ripped of on the street. 1st order placed, just wait now :) I is going to be a high Stovie Pie running up and down west street naked this weekend!! Stoves
  • Score: 3

3:57pm Tue 20 Nov 12

jesss2012 says...

I have to say again that this is the dumbest article i have ever read (even by the argus's standards). I'm surprised you didn't give us the name of Sams excellent cocaine dealer!! I have nothing against the recreational use of drugs myself but am outraged by this article. Are you not accountable for such irresponsible "journalism"? Do you read your own comments? The police should be knocking on your door because you must have a vested interest in the profits of the mentioned company as all you have done is increase their trade nth told. Now where do I complain?
I have to say again that this is the dumbest article i have ever read (even by the argus's standards). I'm surprised you didn't give us the name of Sams excellent cocaine dealer!! I have nothing against the recreational use of drugs myself but am outraged by this article. Are you not accountable for such irresponsible "journalism"? Do you read your own comments? The police should be knocking on your door because you must have a vested interest in the profits of the mentioned company as all you have done is increase their trade nth told. Now where do I complain? jesss2012
  • Score: 0

10:18pm Tue 20 Nov 12

LucySa says...

The first media reports, and the every media report since the first one has resulted in more users on the site. If anyone is to blame directly for the drug use, it is the news sites that tell about it. When the news reports first started, they linked to the site directly. Now at least they don't link directly, but the more journalist write about it- the more I think no one in the news room could pass a drug test after a holiday weekend.
Other than that, the article was well written - so thank you Ben Leo.
The first media reports, and the every media report since the first one has resulted in more users on the site. If anyone is to blame directly for the drug use, it is the news sites that tell about it. When the news reports first started, they linked to the site directly. Now at least they don't link directly, but the more journalist write about it- the more I think no one in the news room could pass a drug test after a holiday weekend. Other than that, the article was well written - so thank you Ben Leo. LucySa
  • Score: 0

12:00am Wed 21 Nov 12

Freeloaders says...

brighton-breezy wrote:
'Sussex Police said they were unaware of the Silk Road operation and they had no reports or intelligence of drugs being delivered to people’s homes.'

Really!?!?! come on Sussex Police, how can you not have known about this! Silkroad has been reported on many times and a quick google search will find news reports dating back over a year. Is it any wonder Sussex Police get so much flack when they say this sort of thing! or is it simply a 'we don't see it, therefore it is not happening' approach?
Good post my friend.Lets face it how could they be unaware.Thats how they work & always have."we don't see it,therefore its not happening."They just like the nice easy target that makes the paper work look good.Some little poor guy in Whitehawk with a bent legal aid solicitor that really works for them.Then its easy to tuck the poor sod up in court & get a conviction.Rich drug dealers have very good private solicitors that really work for them.
[quote][p][bold]brighton-breezy[/bold] wrote: 'Sussex Police said they were unaware of the Silk Road operation and they had no reports or intelligence of drugs being delivered to people’s homes.' Really!?!?! come on Sussex Police, how can you not have known about this! Silkroad has been reported on many times and a quick google search will find news reports dating back over a year. Is it any wonder Sussex Police get so much flack when they say this sort of thing! or is it simply a 'we don't see it, therefore it is not happening' approach?[/p][/quote]Good post my friend.Lets face it how could they be unaware.Thats how they work & always have."we don't see it,therefore its not happening."They just like the nice easy target that makes the paper work look good.Some little poor guy in Whitehawk with a bent legal aid solicitor that really works for them.Then its easy to tuck the poor sod up in court & get a conviction.Rich drug dealers have very good private solicitors that really work for them. Freeloaders
  • Score: 0

5:39pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Nosfaratu says...

Its just 'Free-market entreprenures'.
Just what David Cameron wanted.

Do they pay tax ?
Its just 'Free-market entreprenures'. Just what David Cameron wanted. Do they pay tax ? Nosfaratu
  • Score: 0

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