What did people buy on Silk Road?

Drugs, drugs and more drugs

Last month (29 May 2015) Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, the online black market,  was given a life sentence.

But why was the site so popular?

The short answer is that it made the purchase of illegal drugs straightforward and secure.

According to prosecutors, the site generated about $214 million in sales between early 2011 and late 2013. In late 2011 and 2012, while the site was still active, Carnegie Mellon’s Nicolas Christin gathered eight months of data that shows the 20 most popular categories purchased on Silk Road.

The graphic below appeared in an article by Mark Fahey (@marktfahey)

Silk road chart

As you can see, sixteen of the twenty most popular category of goods were illegal drugs.

We know from such resources as the Global Drug Survey that Britons in particular are increasingly buying their drugs online and from the dark net.

Searching for “Silk Road alternative” on Google returns 3.9 million results, so it’s safe to assume that the “Amazonification” of illegal drug use will be a growing trend.


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