Buying illegal drugs online remains easy two years after the illegal online marketplace Silk Road was shut down by the federal government, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Silk Road sold illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine and LSD.
A person can buy illegal drugs after downloading the anonymous browser called Tor and purchasing the digital currency bitcoin, the article notes. Drugs are available on the so-called "deep Web," along with stolen credit card information. Vendors ship drugs through legal mail delivery services.
"To this day, more than half of anonymous marketplaces implement websites that are directly derived from the template that Silk Road used, and from formatting all the way to policy, Silk Road invented the status quo that actors in this space have come to expect," said Carnegie Mellon University researcher Kyle Soska, a doctoral candidate in electrical computer engineering.
Soska co-authored a study earlier this year that found illegal websites have sales that average $300,000 to $500,000 a day. The study found marijuana accounted for about one-quarter of sales, followed by Ecstasy and stimulants. These websites also sell significant amounts of psychedelic drugs, opioids and other prescription medications.
"The basic strategy new market operators are using appears to be, essentially, to not stay in business too long," said Johns Hopkins University computer science professor Matthew Green. "There's a lot of demand, so people will take financial risks."
The current leader of websites selling illegal drugs is AlphaBay Market, which had 21,372 drug listings recently.
The website Abraxas had about 16,000 listings, while the Nucleus website had almost 13,000.
When Silk Road was seized in October 2013, it had 13,000 drug listings. In June, the creator of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life in prison. The government said over Silk Road's three years in business, more than 1.5 million transactions were conducted on the site.