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Silk Road Merchants Making $2 Million Worth of Bitcoins In Monthly Sales

 

In the year since Senator Joe Manchin called for the “audacious” drug-selling website Silk Road to be “shut down immediately,” the world’s most high-profile underground pharmacy hasn’t just survived. With $22 million in annual sales and around double the commission for the site’s owners compared with just six months ago, its black market business is booming.

In a research paper (PDF here) released earlier this month, Carnegie Mellon computer security professor Nicolas Christin has taken a crack at measuring the sales activity on Silk Road’s underground online marketplace, which runs as a “hidden service” on the Tor network and uses tough-to-trace digital Bitcoins as currency, two measures that have helped to obscure its sellers, buyers and operators from law enforcement.

His findings: the site’s number of sellers, who offer everything from cocaine to ecstasy, has jumped from around 300 in February to more than 550. Its total sales now add up to around $1.9 million a month. And its operators generate more than $6,000 a day in commissions for themselves, compared with around $2,500 in February.

But users on the site have worried in forum conversations recently that its operators may have been infiltrated by law enforcement, and that several of its high-profile sellers have disappeared.

Eight operators of another anonymous drug-sales site, the Farmer’s Market,were indicted in April, possibly after the encrypted email service Hushmail decrypted their communications and gave them to police.

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