Global Drug Survey suggests Silk Road is just the most visible aspect of a much larger online drug-dealing phenomenon.
The internet is starting to rival the backstreets as a place to buy illicit drugs, according to findings from the 2013 Global Drug Survey, with 22% of users reporting they had bought drugs online.
The online marketplace Silk Road has risen to notoriety in recent years as essentially an eBay for drugs: a service operating where law enforcement cannot trace the computers of sellers or buyers, where transactions use the anonymous and untraceable online currency Bitcoin.
But responses to the Global Drug Survey, an annual academic research poll with more than 7,000 UK respondents, suggest Silk Road is merely the most visible aspect of a much wider phenomenon.
Just under a third of survey respondents had heard of the Silk Road marketplace, while 14% had set up an account on the site and browsed its wares. However, only 3% said they had themselves bought and used drugs from the site – though a similar number had taken drugs a friend had bought on Silk Road.