Former Silk Roaders say they are preparing to open new anonymous online drug bazaars after last week's collapse of the illicit Tor marketplace. Meanwhile, drug dealers appear to have taken fright after the takedown of the hidden website.
The shadowy online community that formed around the Silk Road has been thrown into disarray since the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, whom the FBI has accused of being the so-called "Dread Pirate Roberts", the username of the person who appeared to have run the hidden drug bazaar. El Reg notes that Ulbricht has denied all charges.
The Register has been told there are at least five people or organisations now making efforts to rebuild the Silk Road, although this figure is likely to be far higher.
Speaking on hidden forums, a user calling himself The Godfather has called for contributors to help build “Silk Road 2.0”. His credibility is high on the "dark net" (so-called because private internets can be set up and taken down outside the view of any authorities) and he has been linked to Silk Road for almost two years.
The underground "activist" wrote:
Know this when I say: 'This is not the end, this is just the beginning.' We will come out with a newer, sleeker, more secure version of Silk Road that will be 100% untraceable.
Why will this Silk Road be better? From the get-go, we have only made communications with each other through TOR so we all remain completely anonymous, even to each other. LONG LIVE SILK ROAD!!!!!!!!!
Some drug dealers have simply moved to other anonymous online services to beat the police, with an alternative market called Sheep now listing roughly three times as many drugs vendors as before the demise of Silk Road, according to the administrator of yet another anonymous drugs market, Atlantis.
He or she wrote: "I can’t help but get the feeling DPR [Dread Pirate Roberts] would be relatively happy... as his legion of vendors and customers scramble to re-establish contact on other marketplaces."
Dark Webbers have expressed significant support for Ulbricht, the suspect accused by the Feds of being the mastermind behind the site. The "activists" have pledged financial support (in the form of Bitcoins) to help pay his legal bills.
US-based drug users on the messageboards claimed to be able to get drugs fairly easily, while users who said they were British have claimed there is a shortage of dealers following the collapse of the Silk Road.
Anyone who used to sell drugs on the website is likely to have been spooked by the shutdown of Silk Road and may be less likely to put their trust in the anonymity dark web users once took for granted. ®