News broke today that the FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht for running an extensive criminal marketplace online called the Silk Road. The site was used primarily for buying and selling illegal drugs and users were shielded through a network of relays so that their real location and identities remained unknown.
In less than three years the Silk Road generated an estimated $1.2 billion in sales, using virtual money called Bitcoins that was converted to real currency. Ulbricht ran the operation from San Francisco and reportedly earned $80 million personally from its operation. He was also charged with attempted murder for trying to hire someone to kill one of his former employees.
The popularity of such a site is perhaps a sad commentary about the state of our society, although illegal substance trafficking and usage is nothing new. From opium trade to prohibition and today’s prescription drug black market, people will unfortunately find a way to buy and sell these substances regardless of whether they are legal or not. The burden for the damage caused by substance abuse falls on everyone to some degree, and the best way to handle it in the future is through increased prevention and education efforts.
In the meantime, effective addiction treatment programs such as Desert Cove Recovery are here to help provide rehabilitation services for those caught in the trap.