The internet changed all aspects of society. It changed the many different and complex ways that businesses conducted themselves and opened up many internet-based businesses. Google, Amazon, and countless other sites operate almost entirely on the Internet and have rapidly changed so many parts of everyday life. Everything, all at the fingertips of the consumer.


However, with that added accessibility to almost anything a person could want, comes access to potentially dangerous items as well. A far cry from the popular sites, commonly known as The Surface Web, The Dark Web is an intricate and complex underground network of websites, marketplaces, forums and communication methods that gives access to an unlimited amount of activities, some of which could be dangerous.


To get a better understanding, I contacted a man I met through friends. Ray, an alias I’m using to protect his true identity, told me the story of how he joined this illicit market and his motives, which were harmless to anyone other than himself.



About four years ago, the FBI cracked down on the original online drug marketplace, The Silk Road. Their founder, Ross Ulbricht, also known by his online persona “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was given a life sentence for his many charges. As of recently, The Department of Justice cracked down on AlphaBay and another online drug marketplace called Hansa Market, shutting them down and gathering identifying details on over 50,000 transactions that took place. Alpha Bay, Ray’s site of choice for his drug supply, had an estimated 200,000 users and 40,000 suppliers, ten times the size of The Silk Road.


“I lost about $40 or $50 in Bitcoin stored in my Alpha Bay account,” he explained. Bitcoin, the cyber currency with mysterious roots used on The Dark Web that seems to be increasing in value, acts as money for the type of shopping that Ray and the countless other patrons use. Around the time Ray became a customer, one Bitcoin equaled about $800. Now, prices can go up to $4000 for a single Bitcoin.


“I had to reserve what I had. I had to do much smaller amounts than I would’ve if Alpha Bay was still open.”


Ray then told about the vastness of products one could have access to on the Dark Web. While he keeps his business and purchases strictly to cocaine and MDMA, he’s seen other services.


“If you really want to be outlandish with it, you can get guns, credit cards and stuff like that. I didn’t find anything about hitmen. But then again, I wasn’t looking for that. Marijuana is by far the most popular. Honestly, it’s not even close. It’s five to ten times more popular combined than any other item.”


Ray then went into great detail about how one would find products on Alpha Bay and how the interface worked.


“Honestly, it’s just like Amazon. There’s a list. You filter what you want. There’s number of listings and marijuana could have up to ten times as many listings as all the other drugs combined did. The vendors had a trust level and feedback level. You send your address encrypted. Anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks later, it shows up in my mailbox.”


According to Ray, accessing The Dark Web “takes some research and understanding about what you’re doing.” One cannot simply access the many sites of the Dark Web all on Google Chrome. A specific third-party browser must be installed and through this third party, anyone’s IP address can become scattered and anonymously bounce between other IP addresses throughout the world.


“I remember one time, it said I was in France when I was actually in Florida.” Ray said.


To conclude, Ray hypothesized that the more and more marijuana becomes legalized and other drugs becoming slowly decriminalized, traffic to the Dark Web will weaken.


“As the stigma of drugs becomes less existent and we stop supporting scare tactics like D.A.R.E., the so called “criminals” who just want to get high and do nothing violent will stop having to risk their well-being using this darknet.”
If you’d like to discuss The Dark Web further and/or tell your anonymous Dark Web story, then please tweet me at @CaptainKasoff.