Dark Net Market: Drug Dealing and Bitcoin
The use of stolen credit cards and fraudulent identities is nothing new; not for the internet. But prior to 2008 no one ordered weed online; the digits required were tethered to a real world identity. All that changed with the advent of Bitcoin. For the first time anonymity and online purchases collided. An encounter that birthed the Dark Net Market, or DNM.
The anonymous transfer of value offered endless online possibilities. It was a matter of time before websites like the Silk Road popped up. Founded in 2011 by Ross Ulbricht, under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” 70% Silk Road’s sales were narcotics. The first true online black market.
Buyers could use escrow to purchase drugs and have them delivered via individual listings with Bitcoin; much like Ebay. With weapons, illegal software, and supposedly hitmen also available for purchase. Those who listed did so at their own risk. Using Tor, an open-source software allowing for anonymous communication, and a VPN sellers, as well as their clients, were the equivalent of digital ghosts. Until they weren’t.
With time operational security lapsed, data began leaking, and the United State Government took notice. In 2013 the arrests began in earnest. Ross Ulbricht received a life sentence for his participation. When charges finally identified him it was international news.
Not everyone met hand-cuffs to such fanfare. Unlike the analog dealers of yore Silk Road sellers and those like them plied their wares without strong arm tactics; IT and coding knowledge were the prerequisites. Not brutality and a lack of remorse. They don’t make for catchy headlines.
As a consequence they are little known. But there are those out there shining the light on DNM arrests. One such person is Gwern Branwen. Documenting arrests since 2013 http://gwern.net/DNM-archives has become a digital ledger of dark net happenings.
Using his work I put faces to names along with the drugs associated. Narcotics users might have otherwise put themselves in harms way to obtain.
Those represented were noteworthy dealers.