The rise of online drug markets have led to a new form of drug dealing. Rather than gravitating to dark alleyways, dealing can now be done sitting in bed in one’s underwear. That doesn't mean drug dealing is any less of a risky businesses though. People get cheated all the time. Case in point: on Tuesday, leaders of Evolution, one of the largest online drug markets, shuttered the drug market and ran off with all user funds.
Evolution, like other online drug markets, used bitcoin as a medium of exchange. Leaders Verto and Kimble ran off with an estimated $12 million in bitcoin. The shuttering of its doors could be a major reason the price of bitcoin took a nosedive from around the $290 mark to around $255.
Some lost a huge chunk of money in the swindle. “I have lost everything I had worked for over the past year. That was my retirement fund,” one user said.
The underground bazaar filled the void of other closed markets such as Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0, but it was known as a darker version of its predecessors. For example, identity theft was a thriving business on the eBay-like market. One user named DeepThroat threatened to 'doxx' (to make someone’s identity public on the internet) the fraudsters, something that is frowned upon, but nothing seems to have come of these threats.
Of course, this is nothing new. Atlantis, another dark market, turned out to be a scam. Drug dealers lost when Silk Road was shuttered by the FBI. “Great. I've lost on SR1, BMR, Sheep, Cannabis Road, and now Evo[lution]. Except this time I lost all I had. So maybe it's a sign to move on from the DNM. Fucking fuck me running,” one user said. When the price of bitcoin plunged early this year, drug dealers also panicked.
The future of online drug markets
Some are saying that OpenBazaar, a more decentralized market which also uses bitcoin, might be the future for online drug dealers. Critics roll their eyes and insist that the market isn't intended for drugs. It's an open source project though, and that means anyone can fork the code and modify it. OpenBazaar is a fork of DarkMarket which had a more ambiguous, and perhaps “darker” purpose in mind, after all.
If history is our guide we can be pretty sure that online drug markets will continue to thrive. Perhaps they'll even multiply. As long as there are people willing to take the risk for profit, and the anonymizing browser Tor lives on, these markets will probably stick around.
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