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  • Editors Choice ‘Silk Road’, the virtual drug marketplace: A single case study of user experiences

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 TimB No comments

    The online promotion of ‘drug shopping’ and user information networks is of increasing public health and law enforcement concern. An online drug marketplace called ‘Silk Road’ has been operating on the ‘Deep Web’ since February 2011 and was designed to revolutionise contemporary drug consumerism.

    Methods: A single case study approach explored a ‘Silk Road’ user’s motives for online drug purchasing, experiences of accessing and using the website, drug information sourcing, decision making and purchasing, outcomes and settings for use, and perspectives around security.

    The participant was recruited following a lengthy relationship building phase on the ‘Silk Road’ chat forum. Results: The male participant described his motives, experiences of purchasing processes and drugs used from ‘Silk Road’. Consumer experiences on ‘Silk Road’ were described as ‘euphoric’ due to the wide choice of drugs available, relatively easy once navigating the Tor Browser (encryption software) and using ‘Bitcoins’ for transactions, and perceived as safer than negotiating illicit drug markets. Online researching of drug outcomes, particularly for new psychoactive substances was reported. Relationships between vendors and consumers were described as based on cyber levels of trust and professionalism, and supported by ‘stealth modes’, user feedback and resolution modes. The reality of his drug use was described as covert and solitary with psychonautic characteristics, which contrasted with his membership, participation and feelings of safety within the ‘Silk Road’ community.

    Conclusion: ‘Silk Road’ as online drug marketplace presents an interesting displacement away from ‘traditional’ online and street sources of drug supply. Member support and harm reduction ethos within this virtual community maximises consumer decision-making and positive drug experiences, and minimises potential harms and consumer perceived risks. Future research is necessary to explore experiences and backgrounds of other users.


  • Presentation to the EMCDDA on Silk Road Market Place

    Posted on December 11th, 2013 TimB No comments

  • Tim Bingham interview with NewsTalk

    Posted on December 10th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Tim talks about how the changing face of drug use and how people want to access information on how to use drugs more safely through social media and online website. He highlights how people are purchasing from the internet off sites like Silk Road and Topix.


  • Customs stop record amount of head shop drug imports into Ireland

    Posted on January 5th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Record quantities of former head shop drugs were stopped entering the country last year, with the seizure of several new substances.

    Customs officers said the trade is increasing and that the products are being smuggled in by post, courier services, and the freight sector, mainly from China.

    Officials made a number of massive seizures in controlled deliveries in joint operations with gardaí, including two linked operations resulting in the interception of 18kg of a cocktail of new drugs in Waterford last September.

    While the supply and consumption of psychoactive substances in Ireland has fallen with the effective banning of former legal highs and the closure of head shops in 2010, many of the same powders and pills, and a range of new ones, are being supplied over the internet and sold illegally.

    Details released to the Irish Examiner show more than 36kg of these psychoactive substances were seized entering the country in 2012.

    These include:

    *21kg of pyrovalerone, a stimulant powder not previously seized in Ireland before;

    *8kg of 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MEC), another stimulant, also not seized before;

    *5kg of methylone, a former head shop drug, seized previously in 2011;

    *3kg of naphyrone, previously seen in head shop drugs, but this was the first time the drug was caught being illegally imported;

    *11kg of ‘other psychoactive’ drugs, including synthetic smoking mixtures, similar to cannabis.

    “Recent indications are that trade in these products is increasing in shipments of chemicals originating in China,” said a Customs spokeswoman.

    She said the drugs were often misleadingly described as chemicals with legitimate uses (bath salts, corrosion inhibitors, cleaning, or water treatment products).

    “There is evidence of involvement of Irish citizens in importation, repackaging, and distribution (including re-exportation) of these products, but links to organised criminal groups have not been established to date,” she said.

    Drug researcher Tim Bingham said the large haul of 4-MMC might be a replacement for mephedrone, the hugely popular head shop drug. “4-MMC is known as mephedrone and might be replacing it,” he said.

    Mr Bingham said an interesting aspect of the seizures was the massive consignments of pyrovalorone, which was similar to ecstasy in effects and has also been found in mephedrone products.

    He said there was a huge global trade in these products and said a lot was being supplied through hidden websites, including one called the Silk Road.

    Mr Bingham said it was “very difficult” for Customs to intercept packages coming into the country over the internet: “I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have imported from Silk Road and only two or three ever had packages seized. Having said that there are more controlled deliveries, so law enforcement are more aware of it.”

    Cormac O Keefe Irish Examiner 5/1/2013

  • Silk Road and the online drugs trade

    Posted on December 1st, 2012 TimB No comments

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