Will arrests tied to Silk Road put a damper on online drug sales?

The Silk Road shutdown and the arrest of his alleged founder and owner have resonated throughout the Deep Wed and have frightened many of its denizens – but not all.

Some of the drug dealers using that black market website have easily switched to using lesser known alternative sites such as SheepMarketplace. Others have defiantly been planning to rebuild Silk Road, The Register reports.

“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,” announced a well-known underground user named “The Godfather” who has been hanging around Silk Road and doing business on it for the last few years.

“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,” he added.

But, in the meantime, other arrests tied to the defunct underground market might cool their fervor a bit. A legal complaint recently published by Cryptome has revealed that 40-year-old Steven Lloyd Sadler (aka “NOD”) and 38-year-old Jenna White of Bellevue, Washington have been charged with dealing drugs via Silk Road.

Also, four men from the UK were also arrested shortly after Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht by the agents of the newly established UK National Crime Agency.

One 50-something-year-old from Devon and three men in their 20s from Manchester have been detained and are suspected of having dealt drugs via the site, and the agency has stated that other UK suspects were set to be arrested in the coming weeks.

“It is impossible for criminals to completely erase their digital footprint. No matter how technology-savvy the offender, they will always make mistakes and this brings law enforcement closer to them,” said Keith Bristow, NCA’s Director General.

“These so called hidden or anonymous online environments are a key priority for the National Crime Agency. This is only the start of a wider campaign for the NCA to tackle the ‘dark’ or ‘deep’ web and the criminals exploiting it,” he explained. “These criminal areas of the internet aren’t just selling drugs; it’s where fraud takes place, where the trafficking of people and goods is discussed, where child abuse images are exchanged and firearms are traded. These latest arrests are just the start; there are many more to come.”

Time will tell whether they will be successful or not. What’s sure is that these first hits have only partially scared the users of such underground markets.

Those who continue their activities are obviously sure their own operational security is not as bad as Ulbricht’s, even though, as security expert Bruce Schneier has rightly pointed out, maintaining anonymity against a well-funded government adversary is practically impossible.

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