26 Jan The Dangers of Going Down the Silk Road
Silk Road 1.0 was a black market website launched in February 2011 where people around the world could buy illicit drugs, making it the largest illegal drug marketplace in history. An online survey found that 75 percent of users had acquired drugs through Silk Road. But though these substances are easy to obtain, it doesn’t make their risks any less severe.
Silk Road and its copycat follow-ups ran on what is considered the “underbelly” of the Internet, an encrypted network often referred to as the “Dark Net.” It was allegedly founded by Ross William Ulbricht, known online as Dread Pirate Roberts. In October 2013 the site was shut down and Ulbricht was charged with narcotics trafficking, facilitating computer hacking and money laundering. He’s also been charged with murder-for-hire plots involving six would-be victims.
To gain a better understanding of Silk Road, a study reached out to 9,470 drug users in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia. The results showed as many as 18 percent of American drug users were using drugs purchased from Silk Road with the most popular being ecstasy or Molly, followed by marijuana.
Since being shut down, another site, Silk Road 2.0, launched and was quickly shut down again, though the network can easily be restarted and as of this writing appears to be operational. (Several alleged site administrators of Silk Road 2.0 have been indicted on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges.)
The ease with which people can obtain drugs makes their chances of accidental overdose greater, and that’s especially true when it comes to vulnerable, impulsive teens. In November, Patrick McMullen, 17, died after procuring LSD and ecstasy via Silk Road. The gifted young man from Dorset, U.K., had talked of attending Cambridge University and studying computer science and math. But he had been expelled from school for dealing drugs and died of ecstasy toxicity while on Skype with friends who tried in vain to save him, but the ambulance arrived too late.
When obtaining any illegal drugs there’s no way to know the purity of the substance, or what it’s been cut with. McMullen’s mother reported that Patrick thought he knew everything there was to know about drugs, and that they could be used to expand his mind. Instead they ended his life.
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