back to article Copycat drug souk Silk Road 2.0: Another man cuffed

A Washington man accused of helping in the management of the copycat site Silk Road 2.0 has been charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. According to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Seattle, Brian Richard Farrell, 26, is alleged to have used the handle “DoctorClu”, and to …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lies, damned lies, and US government statements

    According to the US government, as of September 2014, Silk Road 2.0 was generating sales of at least approximately $8m (£5.3m) per month

    "Generating sales"? Sounds to me like the US government are using the total value of all transactions, and implying that amount was how much SR2.0 was making.

    Somewhat like saying Mastercard "generated sales" of $300gzn last month, when what they actually did was enable third-party transactions of that value, and take but a small cut of that large amount.

    1. Snowman

      Re: Lies, damned lies, and US government statements

      I do not think they were trying to imply that was how much Silk Road made, it is pretty common for US police agencies to publicize numbers like this as a self serving statement, that whichever group made the bust is good at their job and at least needs to keep getting their funding at the current level if not higher.

      1. Vic
        Joke

        Re: Lies, damned lies, and US government statements

        whichever group made the bust is good at their job and at least needs to keep getting their funding at the current level if not higher.

        Because they have reduced GDP by around $100m?

        Vic.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Lies, damned lies, and US government statements

      Strange... re-reading the lines I can't accuse them of actually saying that, but that is exactly how I read it the first time too - that $8m was the amount of income SR2 was making for its operator... There's definitely some shady quasi-subliminal manipulation going on here in the wording.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FUD

    Off course by frightening the heck out of potential users thy may be trying to deter? On the other hand probably not, better winnings professionally and financially if the feds charge and confiscate...

  4. bonkers

    Silk road sounds to me like a perfect antidote to all the evils of a criminal supply chain.

    People are always going to take illicit substances, it is the single unifying factor of all human cultures ancient and present. Therefore why not let them, in small quantities, do what they like? It's a "consenting adults in private" argument.

    Are the authorities worried that this new phenomenon could achieve most of the goals of their 30-year war, but at no cost to the taxpayer?

    This moral authority thing, being able to tell others what they can and cannot do according to one's own moral judgement, its a pernicious little bugger isn't it?

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      I wonder how much money they could save by spending on drug rehab centers and other social services. Almost no one starts taking drugs for the hell of it, they do it to fix a problem in their lives, it'd be far better to treat the reason why people take drugs than to keep beating them down while scratching their heads trying to figure out why there is still a drug problem...

      Hell, Silk Road is probably reducing crime as most violent drug-related crimes occur at the 'retail' level (distribution to the street level dealers, disputes with other street-level merchants over territory, and disputes between dealers and customers). Such issues that do not appear with Silk Road.

      1. handle1ew

        Yup, I agree with you. That's why addiction needs to decrease and let not drugs be their option to solve personal problems. Good thing, recovery services is now available http://substancerecoveryservices.com .

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: bonkers

    "Silk road sounds to me like a perfect antidote to all the evils of a criminal supply chain...." No, it only makes it easier for the street dealers to make the final link in the chain - the sale to the end user - without getting caught. The drugs still have to be cultivated/manufactured by criminal gangs (often using slave labour - http://www.care2.com/causes/forced-labor-accounts-for-thousands-missing-in-mexicos-drug-war.html), smuggled into the target market (by gangs involved in gun and people smuggling - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_smuggling#Drug_trafficking), and protected from rival gangs through the distribution chain up to the point of sale (by turf wars, violence and intimidation - http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/03/mexico-drug-war-killing-fields), before the street dealers make the final and most risky exchange - dealing with a member of the public who may be an undercover cop. SR removed a lot of the risk for the street dealers, it didn't remove any of the evil from the drugs supply chain. If you think drugs are being dealt on SR and similar sites between end users and cheerful Colombian peasants then you missed a lot of the news for the last fifty-odd years.

    1. bonkers

      Re: bonkers

      Ah, Mr. Bryant, rather noted for your bellicose argument aren't you...?

      You detail well the evils that are in this criminal supply chain, and we can agree that they are not desirable. I don't take the point that Silk Road supplies just to the local dealer, it supplies to the end-user as far as I am aware, through anonymity and smallness of quantity. Larger quantities through the post offer no reduction of risk to the local dealer, so he would be better off buying from his existing sources.

      It's early days yet, and Silk road does allow one to buy direct from a cheerful peasant, though like eBay, it might be a while till this develops the critical mass it needs. I don't see any point in going back through 50 years of history to understand a phenomenon that is at most 5 years old, and still in development.

      I was rather making the point that drug use is a personal moral standpoint, as is prohibition, and historically - if you wish - prohibition tends to lose out, witness alcohol, prostitution, homosexuality, race inequality, weed...

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: bonkers Re: bonkers

        ".....Silk road does allow one to buy direct from a cheerful peasant....." You are living in denial.

        ".....drug use is a personal moral standpoint....." Your moral viewpoint being your denial of the facts (the evil you mentioned) allows you to convince yourself your drug habit isn't harming anyone else.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: bonkers bonkers

          My (notional) drugs habit only (notionally) harms others because of the oppresive regime run by my corrupted Government.

          All of the known natural recreational drugs can be grown in the UK (medicinal sources are legitimately sourced in the UK to supply the legal market - we do not import opuim/morphine/heroin, the poppies are grown here)

          All of the known synthetic recreational drugs can be synthesised in the UK (again we can manufacture any medicinal drug legitimately)

          The only bar to a thriving legitimate recreational drugs manufacturing, distribution and supply operation completely within the UK is the UK Government.

          Due to this bar more than £1beelion of annual taxes from legal UK grown marijuana that could be used to fund a solution to the current A&E crisis is not being raised.

          Matt, trust me, if the legal status of recreational drugs in the UK was changed you would not be forced to use them, your life could continue as it does now, the only difference you would see is a reduction in your taxes and less aquisative crime on your streets.

          They say that SR2 had a turnover of >£5million per month (£60million p/a), that demand is still there whether you shut down the SR.

          That demand will be satisfied one way or another, it would appear that you support the illicit way.

          (oh, and by the way, the global illicit substance demand is greater than $500Beelion per year, every last red cent untaxable)

          1. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

            Re: bonkers bonkers

            Matts right - it only really replaces the dealer , not the chain

            "dont take the point it supplies just to the local dealer," it dosent Bonkers , Matt said it *replaces* the local dealer

            And , as ST17 says - legalising would eliminate the whole chain , and make the govt a lot of money.

            Legalising good old well tested standard drugs would also kill off the dangerous - untested - prototypes "legal highs" biz

          2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: ST7 Re: bonkers bonkers

            ".....and less aquisative crime on your streets....." Bullshit. All those junkies that currently have to steal to fund their habit, where do you think they are going to find the money to afford a more expensive legal habit? Do you really want to pretend they're all going to go from thieves and muggers to productive and law-abiding citizens overnight if you legalise all drugs? The junkies will still be there, and they still have to steal to fund their habit, and they will still buy from the cheapest source, which will be street dealers selling illegal and unsafe products and not pharmacies.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ST7 bonkers bonkers

              price of 200mg Filnarine® SR (morphine sulphate, highest dose) is 73 pence

              That would be less than a Mars Duo

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: ST7 bonkers bonkers

                This is the pricing information for injectable heroin of BP quality

                http://www.evidence.nhs.uk/formulary/bnfc/current/4-central-nervous-system/47-analgesics/472-opioid-analgesics/diamorphine-hydrochloride/diamorphine

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: ST7 Re: ST7 bonkers bonkers

                  "This is the pricing information for injectable heroin of BP quality....." That is the collectively-bargained, Government mandated and subsidised internal price for diamorphine for the NHS, not the commercial market price for the same drug. In the UK it is only prescribed for extreme pain or for court-mandated supervised heroin addiction treatment because it is both highly addictive and can have severe side effects beyond just pronounced addiction (http://www.patient.co.uk/medicine/diamorphine). The chances of such a powerful medical drug being legalised just for your enjoyment are pretty much zero, you'd have a better chance of legalising personal ownership of mustard gas, so your whittering on about its supposed cheapness is both stupid and irrelevant.

                  Indeed, the street price of heroin is cheap compared to other hard drugs (which is probably why you chose it for your deceptive argument), about €30-70 per gram depending on location (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_drug_trade#Heroin), but that typically contains only 5-10% actual base heroin. It still means an addict is going to be needing €100-plus per day for their habit, and that plus increases as they build up tolerance over time. It also means injecting, which is why it is a less popular choice with the trendy crowd ("You simply can't have collapsed veins and tracks when wearing Givenchy, daaaahling"). And when you're passed out in a high for 2-5 hours at a time as often as you can it doesn't leave much chance of earning that €100+ legally, despite what you want to pretend.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: ST7 ST7 bonkers bonkers

                    The outcomes you mention in your second paragraph already occur in the unregulated market despite spending huge resources and plenty of my taxes trying to stop it.

                    What evidence do you have that the outcomes would be worse and that I would have to increase my tax contributions if these substances were available in a regulated environment ?

                    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                      FAIL

                      Re: ST7 Re: ST7 ST7 bonkers bonkers

                      ".....What evidence do you have that the outcomes would be worse and that I would have to increase my tax contributions if these substances were available in a regulated environment ?" Ooh, you want me to prove a negative? Well, you could start with the history of heroin. It was first manufactured (as a patented product) by the German firm Aktiengesellschaft Farbenfabriken (today known as Bayer), who gave it their trade name of Heroin in 1895. Ironically, they thought they had developed a non-addictive replacement for morphine. Whilst it was a very effective surgical pain-killer (so effective that the Allies specifically demanded that the patent was surrendered as part of the Great War's Armistace terms), it became clear very early to the German authorities that over-the-counter sales of Heroin was leading to a massive rise in addiction. The Allies soon came to that realisation too, and 1925 it was banned by the League of Nations. So, my proof of the negative is that heroin has already been tried as an over-the-counter drug for public consumption, and was a failure.

                      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin#Etymology

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: ST7 ST7 ST7 bonkers bonkers

                        It may have been tried as an over-the-counter drug for public consumption in those circumstances and found wanting, my point is that the harms caused by the unregulated market far outweigh the harms that would be caused by a properly regulated and transparent market.

                        Harms such as these

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_of_CIA_drug_trafficking

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: ST7 ST7 ST7 bonkers bonkers

                          Matt,

                          I am genuinely interested in understanding your position on recreational drugs.

                          I think that the current situation is not optimal (to say the least)

                          I don't think we should legalise all drugs and it be a free for all, some of these substances are quite evidently dangerous in the wrong circumstances.

                          The War on Drugs has been going on for far too long, the endless parade of Czars and Lords in constant battle and still the lines on the map just move from side to side.

                          I think it should be done differently, a legal regulated market can be created for anything, there is one for nuclear fuel and another for F35s, there is another for baby milk.

                          I believe that a legal regulated market exists to control the creation, distribution, supply and consumption of things.

                          The current recreational drugs market is unregulated, it is out of control and this favours sharp practices and unscrupulous behaviour in the supply chain to the detriment of everybody.

                          What is your take on the current drugs situation in the UK ?

                        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                          FAIL

                          Re: ST7 Re: ST7 ST7 ST7 bonkers bonkers

                          ".....my point is that the harms caused by the unregulated market far outweigh the harms that would be caused by a properly regulated and transparent market....." You are trying to compare the costs of The War On Drugs - something that has a tangible and historic costs - with something that doesn't exist and therefore cannot be quantified with any certainty - the cost to society of legalising heroin and other hard drugs. You want to insist that legalisation would follow the path you want it to but cannot guarantee that, so your comparison is invalid. Your earlier posts already displayed your naïve take on how addicts that currently fund their habit through crime would magically cease to do so upon legalisation, so making your further assumptions about the benefits of legalisation appear as just unfounded optimism. You even attempt to discount the previous history of Heroin's failure as an over-the-counter drug (after asking me to show how it could be a failure) by simply trying to ignore the fact it was previously a failure. You fail!

                          ".....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_of_CIA_drug_trafficking" You then try and pad out your impossible comparison by pointing at a Wikipedia article comprised of rumours and gossip which carries a big warning of unreliable sources and bias - you fail again!

                          1. Anonymous Coward
                            Anonymous Coward

                            Re: ST7 ST7 ST7 ST7 bonkers bonkers

                            Ok, we disagree on what if any action should be taken to resolve the 'drugs problem' in the UK.

                            Do you think any action should be taken ?

                            Do you think that what we have now is about as good a compromise as we can get ?

                            Should penalties for supply/consumtion be harsher ?

                            If you were in charge Matt, what (if anything) would you do ?

                            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                              Facepalm

                              Re: ST7 Re: ST7 ST7 ST7 ST7 bonkers bonkers

                              "......we disagree on what if any action should be taken to resolve the 'drugs problem' in the UK....." No, what we disagreed on was your rose-tinted outlook on the outcome of legalisation.

                              "....Do you think any action should be taken ?....Should penalties for supply/consumtion be harsher ?......" Given the number of idiots I often meet that insist drugs are "harmless" I'd have to say a lot of education is still needed, and a lot more realism in the media's depiction of drug use and its effects. You only have to look at how many glossy magazines quickly forgot about Kate Moss's drugs habit and escape from conviction (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/jun/15/drugsandalcohol), that carried on publishing fashion ads with her in rather than refusing to carry them. How many TV programs and films still make out drugs are "cool" when the reality is anything but so. I would like to see some laws prohibiting those convicted of Class A and B drug offences from working in media, especially fashion, film, TV and music. Curtail their careers and see how quickly they change their tune.

                              I'd also like to see more education showing the reality of drug abuse, such as pics of what real addicts end up looking like, such as Amy Whinehouse (http://www3.pictures.fp.zimbio.com/Amy+Winehouse+Wreck+Club+Gig+FeL6A6SUnBul.jpg), or these pics of mugshots from the States (http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/slide-past-the-faces-of-meth#.xaKJ149DvW).

                              I'd also like people arrested for using as well as distribution, then the users being shown where their drugs came from and the misery they caused in production and distribution. Ship a few dozen heroin junkies and dealers off to do their time digging wells and building schools in the mountains of Afghanistan, so they can see where the Taleban and chums get their cash from (90% of the World supply of heroin comes from Afghanistan - http://www.npr.org/2010/12/20/132205104/talibans-cash-flow-grows-from-heroin-trade-crime, http://www.rferl.org/content/islamic-state-drug-smuggling-heroin/26711721.html). They can enjoy the "thrill" of risking theft or kidnap (or just being killed outright) at the hands of those drug lords, and see the effect it has on the locals. The US could send cocaine junkies and potheads to do community service in Mexico (90% of the US supply of both cocaine and marijuana comes via Mexico), and have them explain to the locals how their "harmless" habit gets about 10,000 Mexicans killed every year by the drug gangs smuggling into the US (http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/02/world/americas/mexico-drug-war-fast-facts/). That would probably take the shine of "fashionable and exciting" drug use.

                              The real victory in the War on Drugs would be convincing the next generation that junkies are the selfish losers they actually are.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ST7 bonkers bonkers

              Ah yes, the old "drugs creates street crime" argument. Quaint as it is, there is some truth in there, but there is also truth in the following: Countries that implement legal drug distribution can change the "drugs create crime" equation considerably by taking control of it.

              And although some smiling (and not so smiling) peasants might lose out after legalizing countries move to localized production (it will be VERY interesting to see what happens to US imported marijuana bust statistics in the next few years), the narco-traficantes will be the biggest losers of all.

              I invite you to look at a few other reasons why I (and many others) believe the war on drugs will continue to fail miserably until we consider alternatives. There is a lot more to drug enforcement and regulation's impact than simple arrest statistics and moral posturing. For starters, it does not seem to have reduced drug use to any sustainable degree.

              So perhaps it is time to look at some alternatives to repression techniques and their noticeable impacts,

              1) In a tolerant jurisdiction (Switzerland for example), people with habits can go some place clean, safe and quiet to shoot up (not your kid's playground for example). They also don't have to scrounge or steal large amounts of money to support their habits. They can even get jobs, if capable.

              But in America, we seem to prefer crack-houses, lots of street crime, high homicide rates, over-flowing prisons and no-go areas. Honestly, which is worse?

              2) In tolerant jurisdictions, people with habits can get medical treatment, use clean needles, get counseling and other things they won't easily find in the local crack house (unlike casual sex, guns and HIV/AIDS) without fear of being arrested or stigmatized. See above.

              3) As an extra bonus, non-violent users aren't dumped into already crowded jails, where life quickly goes from bad to worse. In America, it seems the state prefers to spend more money building prisons and producing more criminals. See above.

              4) The government could take some (even much) of the money that recreational and medical users are currently spending on illegal drugs. Yes, the trade is estimated at 500 Billion USD worldwide, I can remember when the cocaine trade "only" accounted for 50 Billion in the US, no idea what percentage NA is spending now. Honestly, I'd rather see the government legally siphoning off that money and using it to help people with drug problems, amongst other things. Help Joe Sixpack keep a little more of his paycheck instead of spending his hard-earned money eradicating poppy fields in places like Afghanistan.

              5) The massive sums generated by the illegal drug trade means that politicians and policeman are easily corrupted, arms are easily purchased, and many people are killed by lead (almost as many are killed by overdoses, possibly more).

              The links between the illegal arms trade, drug trafficking and other harmful activities are clearly demonstrable and well known, but removing the eggs (i.e., an enormous illegal market volume and constant demand) or just managing the henhouse better will surely help reduce the number of chickens.

              6) Mexico has become a world-class, criminal narco-state. This is largely thanks to the DEA's quite successful efforts in places like Columbia. The DEA, US and Columbian military have effectively driven the narco-traffickers further North, using your tax dollars. A real win-win for everybody.

              The narcos are now closer to a NAFTA trading partner and their biggest source of drug revenue. Near-shoring is the new drug-dealing business model. Yeah, it probably did seem like a good idea at the time (sort of like selling weapons to the Contras and arming militants in Afghanistan).

              Unfortunately, prohibition-era strategies have just proven to be cluster fucks of an enormous magnitude. I challenge anyone to demonstrate examples where anything but the harshest repression (such as mass executions) have successfully or significantly countered or reduced drug consumption for any length of time.

              You can't wage a successful war on human frailty and some people's desire to escape life's harsher realities.

              And it is difficult to justify prohibition methods after an objective comparison with the well-managed, well regulated, medically supervised alternatives practiced in other countries and beginning now in a few American jurisdictions (for soft drugs anyway). Drug dealers and their (un)witting, Puritan allies would probably hate to see that happen on a global scale. Think of the profits!

              Prohibition didn't work in the 1930's and it is not working now. These substances have been around for millennia and only become "illegal" after a core of American Puritans decided they were evil in the first half of the 20th century. The experiment continues to fail on every street corner and every school yard because the trade and its associated behavior has been driven underground.

              Meanwhile, the law of unintended consequences continues to claim victims, and the crooks just keep getting richer. Despite all policing efforts, people continue to use drugs.

              As people still continue to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes (two of the worst legalized drug health hazards in modern society), gamble and have (or sell) sex with other people. It seems these activities offend certain a group's sense of morality. This group then attempts to demonize and punish this activity with disastrous consequences for the rest of us.

              So get over it, legalize it and tax it if you must.

              Bad habits and unorthodox life choices are not going to disappear any time soon.

              For an interesting view on which drugs kill the most people in the US (same period) check here:

              http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/17/local/la-me-drugs-epidemic-20110918.

              For an interesting view on drug-related violence in Mexico (2009 - 2011) check here:

              http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/terrorism/mexicodrugwar.html

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Solution

    Legalisation, regulation, taxation.

    Use money both saved in enforcement and made in taxation to treat addiction

    The product becomes safer for the consumer and you bring down multiple crime organisations simultaneously just as side effects

    This is the easy stuff guys

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: AC Re: Solution

      "Legalisation, regulation, taxation....." Will put a burden on a legal manufacturer that will mean illegal manufacturers will still have an advantage. You have to charge more for your product to meet safety and quality standards which the established drug cartels will simply laugh about or simply fake. This already happens with commercial medicines. The end of prohibition did not stop illegal alcohol production such as moonshine, and the establishment of luxury alcohol brands (such as Scotch whiskey) has led to gangs labeling their cheap (and often dangerous) product as those luxury brands. Criminals are criminals because they choose not to follow the law, so making new laws will do little to disincentives them from crime, especially if those laws guarantee them a profit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AC Solution

        Have you any idea how cheap this stuff is to make or grow ?

        The majority of people (who are currently criminals in the eyes of the law) would rather buy from legitimate sources simply for the quality control.

        The market for counterfiet Scotch is a consequence of the high duties imposed by Government and nothing to do with the production costs or the margin imposed by premium branding.

        (in fact it is the Government that creates the market demand for these counterfeit goods, ask Tim)

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