Drugs are Bad Part II
November 6, 2014 12:37 PM   Subscribe

The darknet online marketplace Silk Road 2 has been seized. Formerly used for the online purchase and exchange of numerous illicit substances, the Washington Post argues that online reviews of your drug dealer makes the world a safer place, and law enforcement's actions against technology advancements counteracts that.
posted by pashdown (48 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Can't wait for next Summer's blockbuster release of Silk Road 3: Deflationary Drift: Based on the Novel Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
posted by tonycpsu at 12:52 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, that didn't take long.

Any aspiring criminal masterminds out there might be able to learn from this, though. Stuff like don't check into the place you're running your criminal enterprise out of on foursquare.
posted by mhoye at 1:01 PM on November 6, 2014 [19 favorites]


If only the greedy aholes who profit off of prisons and the professional thuggery of law enforcement would figure out they could make twice as much off of drugs a lot of this nonsense would go away.
posted by umberto at 1:06 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


If only the greedy aholes who profit off of prisons and the professional thuggery of law enforcement would figure out they could make twice as much off of drugs a lot of this nonsense would go away.

Won't happen. Can't keep minorities and poor people in their place that way.
posted by Caduceus at 1:08 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


"The people running the post-Silk Road dark web marketplaces are way smarter about this stuff. They're not going to get arrested." -A friend literally two weeks ago
posted by naju at 1:13 PM on November 6, 2014 [17 favorites]


More pro-tips from the indictement:
(1) don't email yourself links to the admin-only message board of your darknet drug market on your personal gmail account
(2) don't register your darknet drugmarket server under your own real name.
(3) don't appoint an undercover homeland security officer as your forum moderator
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:16 PM on November 6, 2014 [39 favorites]


T.D. Strange: "More pro-tips from the indictement:
(1) don't email yourself links to the admin-only message board of your darknet drug market on your personal gmail account
(2) don't register your darknet drugmarket server under your own real name.
(3) don't appoint an undercover homeland security officer as your forum moderator
"

Hello new, edgy Ted Talk.
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on November 6, 2014 [23 favorites]


I mean, we'll start TedX, but hopefully polish up to Ted.
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on November 6, 2014 [10 favorites]


"The people running the post-Silk Road dark web marketplaces are way smarter about this stuff. They're not going to get arrested." -A friend literally two weeks ago

I think we're going to see that idea from cipherpunks and others with technoanarchic leanings for a while. And for a while, they'll probably be right that there are going to obvious mistakes to point to.

If there are enough iterations of this, though, I think in the end it's going to sink in that Advanced Persistent Threat actually does mean that it may actually be impossible to be careful enough.

More pro-tips from the indictement

Of course, potential parallel construction means that we have no idea these were actually the mistakes that caused the problem.
posted by weston at 1:25 PM on November 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


(3) don't appoint an undercover homeland security officer as your forum moderator

....oops?
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:25 PM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Of course, potential parallel construction means that we have no idea these were actually the mistakes that caused the problem.

Even one of those mistakes is game over from a security perspective. It's possible that the whole investigation was parallel constructed and the public documents are just cover, but the indictment seems pretty clear that the site was compromised from pre-launch, the investigator was contacted online in the wake of the SR1 takedown and was inside SR2 from the beginning. If you compare the SR1 and SR2 indictments, the first time they resorted to a lot of talk about server vulnerabilities and leaking information through the TOR protocol which the investigators were able to track. That kind of strained technological wizardry smacks more of parallel construction that this one, which literally saying, "we've been inside this entire time". There's no need to risk revealing sources and methods when the target was this stupid.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:32 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Of course, potential parallel construction means that we have no idea these were actually the mistakes that caused the problem.

What secret surveillance? We did this with plain old police beatings!
posted by Behemoth at 1:42 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing to do each time one of these happens is go to Reddit and read all the "I know you guys SAY to encrypt everything but I just sent my info to my dealer in plaintext and I know I should use a dead drop but I just sent things to my house. Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?" posts.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:48 PM on November 6, 2014 [17 favorites]


But the forum made you check a box affirming you weren't a cop in order to log in! How did they get past that? Outside contractors?

I have two questions:
1. Does this impact the price of bitcoins?
2. How can you tell?
posted by ODiV at 1:51 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


It occurred to me earlier today that the easiest way of busting exchanges might be to hack or just bribe the 'tumbling' services they use to launder their money. I'd wager that the big exchanges have to use the biggest tumblers in order to launder the quantity of bitcoins they earn. Once you've broken the anonymity of the tumblers, all you need to do is follow the money to companies like Coinbase and get a sneak-and-peek warrant on the guys you turn up.
posted by topynate at 1:52 PM on November 6, 2014


Stuff like don't check into the place you're running your criminal enterprise out of on foursquare.

but i like being mayor of weed spot
posted by Hoopo at 1:55 PM on November 6, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'd imagine that the existence of these things is just intolerable to DEA and other LEAs. It's defying their authority. THey're not going to stop trying to bust them, ever.
posted by thelonius at 1:57 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Screw Weed Spot and their pushy salespeople. I take all my business to Best High.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:57 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'd imagine that the existence of these things is just intolerable to DEA and other LEAs. It's defying their authority

Yeah, the type of person who becomes a cop isn't going to be they type to sit back and be like, "you know there might be an upside to this."
posted by dortmunder at 2:07 PM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'd imagine that the existence of these things is just intolerable to DEA and other LEAs. It's defying their authority

I think at this level, it's not like when some sovereign traveller gets all back-talkey to the highway patrol.

It's more than that. The hunter is nothing without deer. That's why they don't take the does.
posted by mikelieman at 2:11 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Any aspiring criminal masterminds out there might be able to learn from this, though. Stuff like don't check into the place you're running your criminal enterprise out of on foursquare.

He didn't, as the checkin was for a hotel in palm springs and his admin was a hotel in Vegas. Not saying Bernthall was an ingenious mastermind, but he wasn't that brazen/idiotic.
posted by joechip at 2:13 PM on November 6, 2014


It's more than that. The hunter is nothing without deer.

Exactly. And the entire infrastructure of the hunting industry's existence (financially and otherwise) is predicated on the existence of deer. So to speak.
posted by naju at 2:20 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine that the existence of these things is just intolerable to DEA...

Yep, turns out enforcing drug law is a high priority for the Drug Enforcement Agency.
posted by sideshow at 2:21 PM on November 6, 2014 [11 favorites]


Jesus Christ, Silk Road #2 was broken up in San Francisco? Again? Do these people ever learn that if you're going to do shady shit on the Internet that you'd better move to a different country?
posted by crapmatic at 2:23 PM on November 6, 2014


I am registering Silk Road 3 through 1023, just for safe keeping.

I mean, for the right amount of BTC I might release those spaces on the Very Dark Internets. But it better be a large amount of BTC.
posted by andreaazure at 2:53 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know, if you register Silk Road 4 now while leaving the previous one unregistered, that'll confuse the feds for a while.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:06 PM on November 6, 2014 [15 favorites]


"Won't happen. Can't keep minorities and poor people in their place that way."

That's funny (tragifunny) because in the comments to the WP article, when someone wrote about the bad stuff the street drug trade is related to and that it's better this way (per the WP article), the response was that somehow, somewhere, up the chain the drug business is supporting terrorism, QED.

And I was like, wow, that person just totally doesn't even see all the minority/poor people whose lives are directly or peripherally made much worse because of the drug trade on the street. Those people, to him and people like him, just don't matter.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:56 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


They're not going to stop trying to bust them, ever.

Well, duh. Cops gonna cop. My question is why someone thought another heavily centralized service would last very long to begin with.
posted by dhartung at 4:10 PM on November 6, 2014


dhartung, I had not read any comment by you and wasn't responding to you. If you're just pointing out that what I said was banally obvious, well, you probably got me there. Cops are indeed going to cop, and using the wireless Googles to sell dope just has to enrage the Feds.
posted by thelonius at 4:19 PM on November 6, 2014


I don't really see the arguments for the FBI leaving silk road alone. Drugs weren't the only thing you could get there; you could also hire hackers, buy forged documents, and, in its previous incarnation, hire murderers. (or attempt to anyway, it's not clear to me how many guns for hire really exist in the world and wether they advertise on SR)

The way we make it safer to buy drugs it to make them legal, not protect shady underground marketplaces.
posted by macrael at 4:39 PM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


they could make twice as much off of drugs a lot of this nonsense would go away.

There is a certain upside to this concept for sure, but having the police/the government take over a lucrative drug trade might be the wrong move. Which one is less prone to corruption, for example? Does the new Republican Senate promise to be a hotbed of clear-headed decision-making?
posted by sneebler at 4:53 PM on November 6, 2014


Street drugs being dangerous is a feature, not a bug for the higher ups. Not for the street cops who have to deal with the grieving family when someone injects something that has nasty additives in it, but to those setting policy? It's great. It's further proof that these things are dangerous and need to be cracked down on. If they get safe, then people might realize that the fearmongering about how the first time you take drugs can kill you is bullshit. The policy makers are already running scared because of the success of pot legalization in CO and WA.

Remember, this is the country that introduced methanol into bootlegged alcohol during prohibition. While they can't get away with spiking heroin with rat poison these days, they can do their best to make the general supply unsafe. (The coke that their buddies use, well, that's locally sourced directly from (for example) FARC ex-guerrillas in Colombia. No need to worry.)
posted by Hactar at 5:26 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


So my orders still going to come though?
posted by cjorgensen at 5:49 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of several closures in music p2p. Everytime it happened something better replaced it. Every bust or closure brought more attention to the phenomena.

That's gonna happen here too. Allready they have a search engine that scours many of these marketplaces, so if one goes down, the business doesn't stop.

It is inevitable that these sites will move overseas. Over here in iceland, they kept busting the kids hosting p2p sites and hubs, so now the torrent site serving iceland is owned and hosted by some eastern european dude.

When there's a will, there's a way...
posted by svenni at 6:26 PM on November 6, 2014


ODiV: "But the forum made you check a box affirming you weren't a cop in order to log in! How did they get past that? "

Hey, I know - you could like... ask me if I'm a cop. If I were a cop, I'd have to tell you, right?
posted by symbioid at 6:32 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Follow the money:
WashPo owned by Bezos who loves to sell you stuff over the internet defending folks who love to sell you drugs over the internet.
Were these markets to be legitimized as the article advocates , Amazon would of course move swiftly take these markets over, for the benefit of its shareholders of course.
posted by Fupped Duck at 6:41 PM on November 6, 2014


Follow the money:
WashPo owned by Bezos who loves to sell you stuff over the internet defending folks who love to sell you drugs over the internet.


I mean, I'm not gonna lie, Amazon Prime-ing an oz of bud to my door sounds pretty awesome. Bring on Amazon High!
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:46 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Can we please just stop the stupidity of this already, every few months another dark net marketplace gets taken down only to be replaced by 3 others. Everyone knows the war of drugs is a complete and absolute failure, oh wait - no it isn't, it's served it's exact purpose of making a few very, very rich off the back of the rest of us.
posted by lpcxa0 at 7:18 PM on November 6, 2014


Follow the money:
WashPo owned by Bezos who loves to sell you stuff over the internet defending folks who love to sell you drugs over the internet.
Were these markets to be legitimized as the article advocates , Amazon would of course move swiftly take these markets over, for the benefit of its shareholders of course.


I wish there were Amazon-sized entities agitating for the legalization of drugs.
posted by atoxyl at 9:22 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Amazon Primo, man.
posted by merelyglib at 11:57 PM on November 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Silk Road 2.0, infiltrated from the start, sold $8M per month in drugs
After a major theft, "Defcon" talked strategy—with an undercover agent.
The new Dread Pirate Roberts, or DPR2 as the feds call him in their criminal complaint [PDF], is still at large, but the FBI has their man. The real power broker on the site was "Defcon," who prosecutors say is Blake Benthall, a 26-year-old San Francisco programmer arrested Wednesday.

...

Benthall appeared in court Thursday for an initial hearing, wearing a gray hoodie that had "INTERNET BETTER" printed on the back.
posted by XMLicious at 4:55 AM on November 7, 2014


Completely serverless network applications have been around a while, and modern ones replicating things like microblogging services (a'la Twitter) with decent performance are already here.

Running any kind of server is an OpSec liability for this use-case, so I'd expect a "SilkRoadster" serverless darknet app to appear soon from the FOSS folks.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:58 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


That's what I don't understand - this isn't Pirate Bay. You don't need someone running things behind the curtain. No middle men needed. No big servers. You don't even need forums, technically. Presumably the only reason there are managers and moderators is so they can make a shitload of money, right? I mean, there are rules for some of these sites ("victimless" wares) but not for others. The ultimate iteration of this is sourceless, unmanaged, unshutdownable. I thought that was where we were headed.
posted by naju at 9:24 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


How Did The FBI Break Tor?
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:45 PM on November 7, 2014


Yep, turns out enforcing drug law is a high priority for the Drug Enforcement Agency.

And it's working out so well for everyone involved. Can totally tell they're closing in on really getting it right.
posted by liketitanic at 9:13 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Silk Road 3.0 is here.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:34 AM on November 8, 2014


This reminds me of several closures in music p2p. Everytime it happened something better replaced it. Every bust or closure brought more attention to the phenomena.

That's gonna happen here too. Allready they have a search engine that scours many of these marketplaces, so if one goes down, the business doesn't stop.

It is inevitable that these sites will move overseas. Over here in iceland, they kept busting the kids hosting p2p sites and hubs, so now the torrent site serving iceland is owned and hosted by some eastern european dude.

When there's a will, there's a way...


A major difference between music p2p and Silk Roads variations is that music could remain in a digital format and be bounced from server to server. Whereas, a drug request on a Silk Road will eventually need to drop into meatspace for delivery, and at that point, law enforcement can pounce.
posted by MikeKD at 4:52 PM on November 8, 2014




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