Schumer Pushes to Shut Down Online Drug Marketplace

Senator Charles Schumer is asking federal authorities to shut down a secretive narcotics market operated online with anonymous sales and untraceable currency.

Heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines are among the drugs being sold in the well-protected website apparently operating for just a few months. It was made public by Gawker and news media reports several days ago.

"Literally, it allows buyers and users to sell illegal drugs online, including heroin, cocaine, and meth, and users do sell by hiding their identities through a program that makes them virtually untraceable," Schumer said at a news conference Sunday. "It's a certifiable one-stop shop for illegal drugs that represents the most brazen attempt to peddle drugs online that we have ever seen. It's more brazen than anything else by lightyears."

Even more amazing, said Schumer, is that users rate their delivery performance and the quality of the drug on the site.

The website uses a complex Internet configuration that allows the users to remain anonymous and untraceable by downloading the program TOR. Users can then log on to the site and hide their IP addresses so that neither the buyer nor the seller knows who they're dealing with.

To make sure the money exchanged can't be traced, the site uses a new digital currency called Bitcoins that can be purchased online by visitors, according to Schumer. Using real money, users purchase these Bitcoins, which can be traded at roughly $9 to one bitcoin, and use them as proxy for real money when they buy things on Silk Road.

"It's an online form of money laundering used to disguise the source of money, and to disguise who's both selling and buying the drug," said Schumer.

Once purchased, sellers are advised to ship the drugs in vacuum-sealed packs to make sure the packages aren't detected from the likes of drug-sniffing dogs and other narcotics surveillance. 

Schumer said it was crucial for DEA and Department of Justice to shut down the site immediately now that is public.

"The DEA has confirmed they are aware of the site, and while they won't confirm or deny that an investigation is underway, from my years of experience, I'd bet my bottom dollar in this instance there is one underway," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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