The Silk Road is sometimes described as the eBay of illegal drugs. It's actually more like Etsy, with its do-it-yourself philosophy and friendly community. Just like Etsy, you place your order with a stranger on the other side of the world, pay using electronic money, and in a couple of days, your package arrives. Except that instead of a dream catcher made of hair and toenail clippings, you get heroin!
The Silk Road runs on Bitcoin, the untraceable electronic currency that has been in the news thanks to its spectacular rise in value and subsequent crash. It turns out it's not just the creepy Winkelvoss twins who are sitting on piles of theoretical money, but dealers on the Silk Road too. When Bitcoin rose to over $200, some were lucky enough to sell high. Others weren't so fortunate—one vendor, SuperTrips, claims to have lost $1.5 million when the price crashed.
I talked to some of the good people of the Silk Road about Bitcoin and life selling drugs online. They were a little paranoid, understandably, but surprisingly accommodating too. Apart from the guy who called me "dumber than the queen's cunt hairs," which was creative, at least. For obvious reasons, they all declined to give real names or photographs.