Sales of Drugs on Silk Road Website Bounce Back After Government Shutdown

Six months after the FBI shut down the website Silk Road, which sold illegal drugs, the site has reopened and sales have bounced back, CNET reports.

The findings come from a new report by the group Digital Citizens Alliance. “What we see on Silk Road today is more drugs, increasing vendors, and an even greater commitment by this community to keeping their ‘movement’ alive,” said Digital Citizens’ Senior Fellow Garth Bruen.

The report noted Silk Road 2.0, the new version of the site, had 13,648 drug listings as of April 2, just slightly more than the 13,000 listings before the arrest of Silk Road’s founder, Ross Ulbricht, last fall.

The original Silk Road could only be accessed by using encryption software called Tor, which shields computers’ IP addresses, allowing people to make purchases anonymously. Silk Road facilitated more than $30 million in sales annually. It had been online since February 2011.

The website also sold other illegal items, such as forged documents and untaxed cigarettes. The site 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.

The Digital Citizens Alliance say Silk Road 2.0 is designed to look and operate much like the original website, but has better security.