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What is it with Aussies and the darknet markets?

Ross Ulbricht, who was convicted earlier this year of being Dread Pirate Roberts, owner of online drugs bazaar Silk Road, is due to be sentenced next Friday.

Australians were over-represented as customers of Silk Road (third largest user base by identified country according to FBI documents) and now it seems we will be over-represented at Ross Ulbricht’s sentencing hearing too. On both sides of the courtroom.


The prosecution is seeking to admit testimony of six families of Silk Road customers who died from drug overdoses or other complications whilst using drugs alleged to have come from Silk Road. Three of those victims – Preston Bridge, Jacob Lyon-Green and Scott Wilsdon – are Australians.

On the other side, Dr Monica Barratt, Australia’s go-to academic on all things drugs and the internet (and moderator of the Bluelight forums), has provided an affidavit in support of Ross Ulbricht’s sentencing submission. By some reports, Judge Forrest has been swayed enough by the defence’s harm reduction arguments to seek out even more academic analysis of Silk Road. In particular, she has asked for two publications by Aussie Dr James Martin, including his book Drugs on the Dark Net, which beat pretty much everybody else’s out. [grumble grumble, she didn’t ask for my book which I’m sure is an easier, if less intellectual, read]

It seems Australians are inextricably intertwined with the darknet markets. We have embraced them perhaps more than any other country on a per capita basis. No doubt it has much to do with our big borders and very expensive drugs.

Results of the most recent Global Drug Survey will be coming out next month and they include much data on use of the darknet markets by Australians. The revelations should be interesting.

9 Responses

  1. The wholesale tier of the Australian drug market is like nowhere else, geographically speaking, for the simple fact that land borders to neighbouring countries with poor (or, indeed, corrupt) policing practices are not available to be exploited, as they are when considering North America and the EU. The result is that one has a more organised structure if you’re talking about a classical organised crime group, with connections overseas, which must flow down to the regional distribution networks. In the process, everybody has to get paid, either by tacking on a commission, or diluting product. The end result means that your end user has typically either gotten poor quality product, overpriced product, or both.

    Dark Net markets have created a nexus between the well and truly cashed up (by global standards) end user which Australia has in abundance, and those technically savvy local and foreign traffickers who are cutting out the multiple tiers between seller and buyer.

  2. Whilst I have nothing but sympathy for the parents of dead kids, I think going after the (supposed) owner of a darknet market is born out of anger and not rational thinking. I mean, why not also blame the postman, blame yourself for giving him too much pocket money, blame his friend Liam with the dour demeanour who never looks you in the eye.

    All of this simply points to the fact that we desperately, DESPERATELY need drug reform in this country. It’s gunna be very difficult to argue that SR (and by extension, the internet as a whole) has highlighted the negative side of drug use. DNM’s, places like Bluelight and Erowid have IMHO largely (and somewhat ironically) at the forefront of safe and responsible drug use.

    And what have we got from our actual elected officials? Idiotic, uninformed, popularist rhetoric.

  3. I’d attribute this to being a result of the combination of our attitude to drugs and our laws surrounding drugs.

    The majority of Australians for a while now have wanted Marijuana to be legalized, but nothing in terms of law to allow for this has passed. In some areas it’s decriminalized, or simply ignored by the law (look at Nimdim). I think this has made Australians more comfortable with using the sites than other countries with generally more negative views and harsher laws on drugs.

  4. It’s Australian culture. We have always done loads more drugs than any other country people I have ever met, hands down.

    Don’t blame the people. Blame the system

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