Dark Web Drugs at Australia’s Busiest Postal Facility
Dark Web Drugs at Australia’s – In comparison to the rest of the world, the Australian Border Force faces a very unusual problem: intercepting narcotics that come in Australia from other countries, from an internal dark web drug industry that is almost totally dependent on those same foreign shipments. The Australian Border Force detected over 50,000 drugs last year. We accompany them as they search for narcotics hidden in parcels and envelopes shipped by Dark Web traffickers from all across the world.
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Domestic order domestic friends
Although I appreciate that Australia is a different ballgame due to logistics and location, I believe I’d just order from Europe and hope for the best.
A title change was also suggested: “in a crowded international mail room.”
True, I’ve ordered internationally previously because MDMA has much better prices, and it’s always arrived, but it’s still nerve-racking!
I watch the Oz customs show, and gosh, are they strict, and I despise the officers. I know it’s their work, but they act like children when they find something, as if they live for it. I guess it’s the druggie in me, but I despise the high-five celebration when they snag a couple tablets. I just think that’s some poor bastard’s buzz being completely destroyed by fools who believe VB is the best substance ever. And the amount of effort that goes into catching something is incredible. Prices in Australia are insane, and it’s no surprise. For 30 euros, you can obtain an eight-pack of high-quality MDMA.
I’ve been out of the loop for a few years for darknet orders in Australia, but I thought it was still important to order domestically?
What drug dealers have taught us about e-commerce on the dark web
Australians are among the world’s most frequent consumers of recreational drugs. Historically, friend-of-a-friend networks were the most common method of obtaining marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, or LSD. There was little time to look around.
Buyers received what they were given, with no idea what their pill or powder had been diluted with by the time it reached the end user, or whether another product had been completely substituted. Complaints could be met with a shrug at best, or a weapon at worst. Drugs were prohibitively expensive.
I was in Sydney on New Year’s Eve and couldn’t believe how many drug users I saw! Especially considering the country’s isolation and the difficulties of bringing medications in.
I reside in Toronto and have been across Europe and every big city in the United States, and the quantity of party drugs I witnessed in all of those locations pales in comparison to what I saw in Australia.
Any fear of violence was eliminated by anonymous transactions, and the feedback mechanism ensured improved quality.
Sellers had reputations to protect, so they offered exceptional customer service and high-quality pharmaceuticals to maintain a continually good rating. However, just as Uber drivers may covertly evaluate their passengers, sellers can secretly rate their customers. Anyone who was difficult to do business with or who neglected to release cash from escrow (resulting in the seller having to wait until the site auto-released long later) was penalized. If a buyer had a bad reputation, the most popular vendors would refuse to deal with them, whereas high-volume customers with a good ranking were rewarded with extra drugs or free express postage.
One area that skeptics questioned was delivery. Surely, the customer was taking a huge risk by having medicines shipped by normal mail? Although there was a risk, it was not nearly as dangerous as outsiders thought. Sellers were proficient at packing narcotics to escape detection, and the recipient had plausible deniability if drugs were intercepted. How should they know who had decided to provide them drugs? When Tor was doing its job, forensic inspections of their computers would disclose no trace of drug market access. In any event, it would be unreasonable to spend such resources on $50 of drugs where the buyer had no way of providing any information on their source other than the name of an untraceable website.
The shift online had clear advantages for buyers and sellers of illegal drugs. Anonymous online transactions eradicated any threat of violence. The feedback system and vendors’ desire for repeat business meant an invariably higher-quality product than what was available on the street (something later confirmed by the FBI when it published test results of drugs bought in an attempt to determine their origin). Users were also armed with information thanks to the lively forums, where members shared information, stories and test results of the wares of the various sellers.
Perhaps the most astonishing development was that Silk Road had its own physician on staff, ready to dish out free medical advice to drug users. In between running his busy practice and working in harm reduction for a Spanish NGO, Dr Fernando Caudevilla provided expert personal advice on drug use and abuse to Silk Road’s anonymous membership. His username was, appropriately, “DoctorX” and he was inundated with questions about drug safety, which he answered with his refreshing, straightforward, holistic approach. Recognising the value that someone like Caudevilla brought to the site, Dread Pirate Roberts paid him a stipend, in bitcoin, as thanks for the service he provided to Silk Road’s members.
For more than two years, Silk Road grew rapidly in every metric: number of customers, turnover, profit and notoriety. Nobody embraced this new way of purchasing drugs more enthusiastically than Australians. Having become accustomed to expensive, low-quality drugs purchased after passing through several hands, often diluted at each step, Australians suddenly had direct access to overseas vendors close to the source for even the smallest orders. Australians soon became the largest users of the site per capita of any country in the world. Silk Road put on an Australian staff member, in addition to those already servicing the US and Europe, to provide customer service in the Down Under time zone.
Dread Pirate Roberts developed a cult-like following among the site’s million members as a peace-seeking libertarian who provided recreational drug users with access to affordable, high-quality drugs in a violence-free environment. It wasn’t until it all came crashing down that they heard a different story.
On October 3, 2013, the FBI swooped on Ross William Ulbricht, 29, in the sci-fi section of a small library in Glen Park, San Francisco, as he chatted online. The arresting officers had fingered the easygoing Texan as being the kingpin of the largest online drug-dealing empire in history. They were left in no doubt when they seized his laptop, where he was logged into the master administration panel of the site. The computer contained a treasure trove of information, including chat logs, bitcoin wallets and identification documents of members of his staff. The latter led to the arrest of his mentor and three lieutenants, including Australian forum moderator Peter Nash.
The chat logs revealed that behind the scenes had been anything but smooth and peaceful, as the Silk Road team battled bitcoin thefts, paid off hackers and extortionists, received intelligence from corrupt officials and, most alarmingly, ordered and paid for hits on people who threatened to expose the site (although no murders were ever carried out).
After a three-week trial that had more twists and turns than a thriller, Ulbricht was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole for the crime of owning and operating the Silk Road website. Nash was extradited to the US, then sent home after a judge pronounced the 18 months he had served by the time he faced sentencing was enough for his crime of being a customer-service operator for the site.
The agencies that took part in Silk Road’s downfall – the DEA, FBI, CIA, IRS, NSA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Postal Inspection Service and local law enforcement (with an IRS agent responsible for finding the smoking gun: a buried email address belonging to Ulbricht) – had worked for years to unmask Dread Pirate Roberts, and proudly trumpeted their success in doing their part for the war on drugs to the press. They estimated Silk Road had turned over $US1.2 billion in its short lifespan. This figure turned out to be grossly inflated thanks to erroneous bitcoin maths, but the truth nevertheless contained some mind-blowing numbers. The official data for Silk Road’s operations was a turnover of $US213,888,103, earning the site commissions of $US13,174,896. As Silk Road grew, so did the demand for bitcoin, and its value quickly rose from less than a dollar at Silk Road’s inception to more than $US600 a coin. After Ulbricht’s arrest, its value exploded to more than $US1200, making many of those holding the currency instant millionaires.
One area that skeptics questioned was delivery. Surely, the customer was taking a huge risk by having medicines shipped by normal mail? Although there was a risk, it was not nearly as dangerous as outsiders thought. Sellers were proficient at packing narcotics to escape detection, and the recipient had plausible deniability if drugs were intercepted. How should they know who had decided to provide them drugs? When Tor was doing its job, forensic inspections of their computers would disclose no trace of drug market access.
However, a shopfront is useless if items cannot be paid for or delivered. Credit cards and bank transfers are examples of electronic transfer mechanisms that may be tracked. The cryptocurrency bitcoin addressed the payment problem. At its most basic, it is a borderless digital money that enables for nearly instantaneous transactions between anyone anywhere in the globe. Demand determines its worth. Most crucially, neither party in a transaction needs to know the identity of the other. In an online environment, it is the equivalent of currency.
The final barrier was distribution of illicit products, and for narcotics, the postal system was the easiest answer. Most medications were tiny enough for personal use to be concealed in a plain white business envelope, indistinguishable from the billions of others traveling across the world. Larger amounts might be concealed in DVD sleeves or soft toys.
The infrastructure for internet drug transactions was in place, but the system was far from ideal. A potential customer would need to know the URL of a dealer’s store that sold their preferred drug and shipped it to their nation. There was no means of knowing if the sites were authentic unless they received personal endorsements. The sites might simply accept Bitcoin but fail to deliver the product while claiming it.
In 2011, when a single bitcoin cost less than a dollar, a young Texan economics student living in Silicon Valley came up with the perfect solution to revolutionise the trillion-dollar illicit drug industry.
Most people would never have heard of the dark web had it not been for the rise of the first point-and-click one-stop illicit drugs market, Silk Road. The original and most notorious dark web drugs bazaar was an ambitious project that brought together buyers and sellers of every drug imaginable in much the same way eBay or Amazon does with more mainstream products. Silk Road was marketed to the masses, designed to be easy to find, navigate and, ultimately, buy from.
Its creator was at the helm, initially known as Admin but subsequently adopting the title Dread Pirate Roberts. He started about building a community as well as a business, with forums where site users could discuss drugs, music, philosophy, and life in general. Dread Pirate Roberts was known for his inspiring epistles about liberty, freedom, and standing up to the man, and he hosted a book club where members were encouraged to study and discuss philosophical classics. Dark Web Drugs at Australia’s
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Before they could sell on Silk Road, merchants had to agree to follow the seller’s guide, which said that anything may be sold as long as it did not injure or mislead another person. The founder’s libertarian ideas meant that everybody should have the freedom to chose what enters into their body, but they should not be permitted to infringe on the rights of others.
Silk Road remained a tiny experiment for the first several months of its existence until June 1, 2011, when a piece emerged on the online gossip site Gawker. The report contained interviews with pleased clients as well as screenshots of the site, which had 343 medication listings at the time. The article concluded that the site was
Many people reacted to the news with wrath and incredulity, while others reacted with enthusiasm and interest. When US Senator Chuck Schumer declared war on Silk Road and demanded that it be shut down immediately, he gave the site unexpected credibility and visibility. Senator Schumer’s comments, however, insured that the site’s popularity soared, and tens of thousands of new users signed up overnight.
Drug traffickers from over the world fought with colorful advertising offering everything from a single ecstasy pill to large orders headed for retail sale, and they conducted special specials and freebies to entice new consumers. The site’s user-friendly layout was familiar to anybody who had used an e-commerce platform before, only instead of books and DVDs, there were marijuana, cocaine, or Xanax bars ready to be dropped into a shopping basket.
As soon as the buyer submitted the order, Silk Road would hold payment in escrow until the buyer confirmed the goods had arrived and were as advertised, when they would click to release the funds and, using a five-star rating system, provide feedback on the seller’s customer service, packaging and quality of product. Disputes would wind up with the website’s administrator for arbitration, but more often than not a seller would offer a reship before it got to that point to maintain their five stars.
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Any fear of violence was eliminated by anonymous transactions, and the feedback mechanism ensured improved quality.
Sellers had reputations to protect, so they offered exceptional customer service and high-quality pharmaceuticals to maintain a continually good rating. However, just as Uber drivers may covertly evaluate their passengers, sellers can secretly rate their customers. Anyone who was difficult to do business with or who neglected to release cash from escrow (resulting in the seller having to wait until the site auto-released long later) was penalized. If a buyer had a terrible reputation, the most popular vendors would refuse to deal with them, but high-volume clients with a good ranking were rewarded with more medications or free express shipment.
The one area sceptics queried was delivery. Surely the buyer was taking an enormous risk having drugs delivered in the regular mail? Although the risk was real, it was not nearly as dangerous as outsiders perceived. Sellers were skilled at packaging the drugs to avoid detection, and in the rare incidence of drugs being intercepted the recipient had plausible deniability. How should they know who had decided to send drugs to them? Forensic examinations of their computers would reveal no evidence of any access to the drugs market when Tor was doing its job. In any event, it would be unreasonable to spend such resources on $50 of drugs where the buyer had no way of providing any information on their source other than the name of an untraceable website.