The drug war is a ghastly thing, and the number of people we lock up in the US is more shameful than our foreign policy. You can begrudge the first DPR his lame security, shady murder contracts, and ill-gotten fortune, but he's the product of our system, and his shame is our shame.
Right now Silk Road is the eBay of drugs, where convenience is it's competitive advantage. I can get some drug without visiting a shady person in some shady place, but the drugs (in general) are still coming to the US the bloody, violent way via paramilitaries, druglords, etc. A huge part of the US war on drugs takes place among and between those parties, with the US not always supporting the side you might expect.
I'd be more excited about an Etsy of drugs, where people could buy whatever they want straight from the source, bypassing the blood trail. Good luck getting packages delivered from Afghanistan or Colombia though.
For example, if a druglord is competing directly with a mom-and-pop drug cultivator on SilkRoad -- the drug lord has higher costs (bribery, paramilitary force, etc.) and only marginally lower COGS from scale. Because they are unable to intimidate or kill other cultivators, like they do in meat space, the druglord could be at a real disadvantage.
I mean, cartels have been pumped up to pretty ridiculous heights by the war on drugs but it's not at the point where it would be realistic to have them say "here is a list of a few hundred usernames from SilkRoad spread out all over North America. Find them and murder them all."
Even considering that their MO is more along the lines of picking out the ones they can find and making a gruesome spectacle to scare the rest it still seems unrealistic, although so do a lot of things happening with drugs cartels these days to be fair.
This is not exact, unfortunately, because it depends also on some other factors. If the drug lords decide that they want to impose the fact that they don't accept opposition, they are actually going to do exactly that. They've done it already for several bloggers, it would make little difference if they decided to do it for the little indipendent dealers.
Keep in mind that in order to take out a few hundred independent dealears, they only need to torture and kill a few, and have the word spread.
First, drug cartels have very easily control of the IT infrastructures, and second, they now employ hackers exactly to keep the internet information under control.
They've killed several bloggers already, and you can be sure they thought they were anonymous.
These aren't all of equivalent difficulty...
Apparently not hard enough.
It is being done in Europe already.
Offline there is:
- competition via violence
- political narcoterrorism
- profit maximization by product dilution
- profit maximization by product deception (most street MDMA is amphetamine+nBOME mixture)
Online there is:
- competition via quality, price (violence impossible in anonymous marketplace)
- political separation via anonymity
- drastically reduced product dilution (people do reviews with sources like ecstasydata.org)
- drastically reduced product deception (see "The LSD Avengers" for example)
When you contrast these aspects you see that the online marketplaces do operate like a free market with the biggest difference being the incentives associated with deceptive vending. I think thats valuable just because it provides a real world simulation for what variables of legalization would look like without forcing any one country to take the initial plunge by themselves.
Remember, the vast majority of offline drug deals do not consist of driving to the hood to pick up something from a gangster. I think this mis-perception clouds a lot of the analysis of operations like the Silk Road.
You don't have to move far up the chain before you see some serious violence. Personal use weed dealer? Probably not going to get killed. But robbed? Yes, definitely, seen it happen many times. Personal use coke, ecstasy, heroin dealer? Much more likely to experience violence. The dealer one level above, supplying the personal use dealers? They get killed all the time, despite not being drug kingpins in any sense. It only costs 1000$-2000$ to have someone killed in many parts of the US, so that should say something about the chance of violence that small-time dealers face.
Silk Road was more than personal use sales, I'd bet the majority of its revenue came from pounds and half pounds of weed, sheets of LSD, and orders of 500+ ecstasy pills. Heroin and coke haven't caught on as much yet in the online scene, with prices still a little above what well-connected users can get on the streets, but give it time. Also keep in mind that the online drug scene is more than just SR/BMR/Sheep and that there are private forums that deal strictly in wholesale.
If you're interested in an observed account of a drug gang, there is a book called "Gang Leader for a Day" where the author spent a lot of time in a housing project, with the guy who ran that faction of the gang. It has its flaws but it was an interesting read:
Anybody running a small delivery line is almost always carrying an illegal gun, and willing to shoot competitors over peddling 8ths of coke.
if you read the report about the 1st silk road, you'll see that's not true
Alcohol and tobbacco dealers aren't involved in shootings in the streets - instead we find them in their shops, carefully following laws and doing business peacefully. Nor are their customers suffering from adulterated goods, or committing robberies to afford black-market prices.
Zetas do not hold up trucks full of tequilla and beer going into the US for extortion because they would be arrested. When your business is legal the solution for dealing with thugs is simple: call the cops or sue them. When you are gray area/illegal your only negotiation is to pay them or pick up a gun creating an all out war.
There are problems with some of the manufacture of cannabis. Criminal gangs use trafficked workers, forcing them to work in cannabis farms.
If I was a criminal gang using slaves to grow cannabis I think I'd market it as some home grown organic low yield crop with images of open fields and nice trees.
Just like eggs from caged hens don't show battery farms, but happy chickens walking in green fields. http://www.ecolovers.co.uk/wordpress/labelling-matters-the-r... etc.
It happens in England.
I think you mean more of an Amazon Marketplace of drugs.
> the drugs (in general) are still coming to the US the bloody, violent way via paramilitaries, druglords, etc.
If the information and payment infrastructure is good enough, it should make producers and shippers invisible to other producers and shippers, including the paramilitaries and drug-lords.
Not necessarily. A lot of them appear to be shipped in via post from outside the US direct to the buyer.
For one thing, no one's bothering to attack the US border, whereas in Brazil the government is fighting numerous active paramilitary groups which are basically all just fighting each other for control of the drug trade.
Cocaine and heroin are different stories, but are probably the exception compared to marijuana, various drugs that need to be lab-synthesized, and prescription pills being resold.
It has symbolic value I think. While I don't feel particularly anarchistic, I think a solid dose of a rebellious streak in society is good. Just to keep the government on its toes. A counterforce to governments tendency to do NSA scandal type stuff if you will.
That is probably the dumbest thing I've read in months.
It's actually quite spot on. The only reason the Silk Road is used is because there's a need for it. A need that's created by our current litigious and unproductive drug laws.
Let's parse it:
> You can begrudge the first DPR his lame security, shady murder contracts, and ill-gotten fortune,
I spent a decent amount of time trying to figure out what that meant until finally it occurred to me that the OP simply does not seem to know what the word begrudge means. He saw a similar construction used in a well written piece and copied it.
> but he's the product of our system,
Utter abnegation of personal responsibility. What about the rest of us who don't try to have people killed? Are we not also products of the system?
> and his shame is our shame.
Most assuredly not. I have on occasion behaved shamefully. I have not tried to have people killed. I have not facilitated what I consider dangerous and debilitating behavior. His shame is not my shame, nor is mine his. Society is not to blame.
You say "The only reason the Silk Road is used is because there's a need for it." Nothing could be further from the truth. The only reason the Silk Road exists is because there is a desire for it. In the language of the moral theorists, not all desires are ordered desires. It's a tough pill for the libertarians to swallow, but disordered behavior does not warrant the same privilege as well-ordered behavior.
The way this site launched so soon after the original was shut down--with the same name, same styling, even the same "Dread Pirate Roberts" moniker--makes me very suspicious.
In The Princess Bride, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/ it was actually a title that was handed down, and the current Dread Pirate Roberts is the third one.
The Princess Bride has wonderfully quotable dialogue, e.g. "Have you ever considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts."
"Roberts isn’t actually the site’s founder, he revealed in our interview. He credits Silk Road’s creation to another, even more secretive entrepreneur whom he declined to tell me anything about and who may have used the “Dread Pirate Roberts” nom de guerre before it was assumed by the person I interviewed."
From what I understand, at the time of Silk Road's creation, he was not nearly technically capable of creating a site like it. He seems to have learned enough to administer and update the site, but the initial construction was done by another.
I'd rather buy heroin from Silk Road (where it's peer-reviewed and often tested by third-parties) than on the street.
Buying online is just overall less risky.
And I thought it was a memorable way to phrase it... I've never seen heroin, except on The Wire.
For all drugs, it's quite possible that online offers better quality. I've known cocaine users whose local dealers only sold shitty quality, afaik I don't know anyone who has bought online but it might make sense for them in that case. And drugs like weed, might well be that you want a choice of strains whereas most dealers just have whatever they managed to buy, not a supermarket range of choices.