What are black market dealers like, anyway? That's an increasingly interesting question in an age when the shadow economy seems to be enjoying a boom as workers and businesses hide from tax collectors and regulators. The folks over at the Tor-based Silk Road drug marketplace are an interesting combination of old-fashioned, in that they're engaged in the ancient trade of dealing in contraband, and utterly newfangled, since they're using an anonymous, high-tech Website to do business. That probably nudges the answer to that opening question in a different direction than you'd head if you went strolling down a rough street at one a.m., of course. But, as it turns out (and as noted at Reason 24/7), Vice's Alex McClintock found out that these black marketeers are, by and large, "really nice guys."
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.
Greg – Dope Vendor - 37
VICE: How did you get into selling drugs online?
Greg: I heard about Silk Road through a news article. I thought it was a scam at first, but then I knew some people who said they'd tried it out and said it works.
Is mailing dope your full-time job?
No, it is not my full-time job. It is just an extra thing I do on the side. I think marijuana should be legal, so I provide it to people. Other countries (and some states in the US) have legalized it, which clearly shows it isn't a problem for users or society.
Is it easier than hustling out on the street corner?
It takes a lot more time to package orders than it does to simply hand someone a bag with weed in it IRL. The higher prices on here reflect the time and effort that goes in to every order. There are a lot of scammers on here—requesting refunds very quickly, saying it was underweight etc. But most people are friendly because they are happy they have received the product they paid for.
Aren't you afraid of the law?
It does cross my mind, but I have myself covered well. If a package went straight to a police officer, it wouldn't worry me because it cannot be traced back to me.
What you find is the usual run of small business people dealing with the minutiae of running their businesses, sourcing goods and delivering packages on time. As is often the case with online businesses, they're really concerned about customer feedback. Overall, McClintock concludes, Silk Road is more like Etsy than Ebay "with its do-it-yourself philosophy and friendly community."
The whole piece is worth a read. You'll find it here.
(H/T np complete)