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Follow the Silk Road

What would be the Daily Mail’s biggest nightmare?
How about this…

Class A drugs are being delivered to homes across the UK by Royal Mail to customers who have bought them online, like they were using Amazon or eBay.

Ecstasy, heroin, cannabis and cocaine are all offered on the website Silk Road, and users say it is ‘easier and safer’ than buying from drugs dealers.

Shoppers choose their drugs with the click of a mouse and then wait for a neatly packaged parcel, with drugs disguised inside, to fall through their letter box.

Silk Road is an illegal replica online marketplace, like eBay, with buyers and sellers, dispute and resolution services and feedback ratings.

The website is accessed via a programme called Tor, which enables all members to remain anonymous and uses an ‘onion’ system to make sure their IP address is always hidden from police.

An investigation by an online computer security professor in America earlier this year estimated that Silk Road boasts an annual sales figure of some £14million.

One clubber from Brighton, said: “There’s a group of us in Brighton who always order stuff online, it’s safer than going out to some dodgy car park somewhere.

“It’s just so much easier and I know the quality of the stuff I order isn’t going to be compromised. If I am ordering one or two things in a package like this, then it won’t get picked up by the postal guys. I reckon if I started ordering loads of stuff though, in massive quantities, it would probably mean trouble.”

Drugs are bought with ‘Bitcoins’, an untraceable digital currency.

A 30-year-old DJ said: ”I was shocked at how easy it was at first. I was used to calling friends of friends to try and sort stuff out, but now I just go online and wait. There’s quite a decent community on there with some intelligent people; it’s not full of druggies like some people would think. Why would I want to try and score from some dodgy dealer in a nightclub when I can just get it delivered to my doorstop? It’s a no-brainer.”

Sussex Police said they were completely unaware of Silk Road and had no intelligence on dealers using encrypted websites to supply illegal drugs by post. A spokeswoman said: “Sussex Police welcomes any intelligence with regard to the supply of illicit drugs, which are a constant threat to our community. It’s a timely reminder that any drugs, whether bought in person on the street or internet will come from dubious origin.”

The Royal Mail said they never knowingly allowed illegal substances to be delivered by post, but refused to disclose the steps taken to prevent postal dealing. A spokesman said: “For obvious reasons, we are not able to give any further details about our security measures, as this would compromise our operations.”

The Home Office said: “The government and law enforcement agencies take the issue of unlawful advertising and sales of drugs on the internet very seriously and we continue to work with internet providers to ensure they comply with the law. UK Border Force officers are also on constant alert to keep illegal drugs from entering the country. Operations include intelligence-led examination of packages and letters sent through the post.”

It appears Silk Road has managed to keep its existence fairly well-hidden from the authorities and that if they manage to keep one step ahead, Silk Road will represent a safe, easy and very modern way of buying drugs for some time to come.

Nigel Phillips

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