Here’s an article written by a friend named Cam Phillips on a topic I’m pretty passionate about, the legalisation and regulation of drugs.
In what could easily be the next international crime thriller for the digital age, authorities have made arrests in three continents as part of an online drug racket take-down operation.
An online narcotics marketplace, known as ‘The Farmer’s Market’ sold illegal drugs to 3,000 people across 34 countries, including every single state in the US, according to a federal indictment released yesterday in Los Angeles.
The Farmer’s Market processed over $1 million in sales in less than three years. The website’s offering included Ecstasy, psychotropic mushrooms, LSD and high-end marijuana. In order to remain anonymous, the site’s operators utilised a network called Tor, which allows users to mask their IP address with encryption. They also screened and vetted suppliers, offered a delivery guarantee and took a commission on each sale. At least in that sense, The Farmer’s Market was operated just like any other virtual marketplace.
The lead defendant, Marc Willems, a Dutch national, was arrested by local police at his home in Lelystad, Netherlands. Another defendant, this time a US man living in Argentina, was arrested as he was leaving Bogota, Colombia. Six others were also arrested from various places in the US for acting as suppliers or ‘cash drops’ for laundering profits. Payments to the site had been made using services like Western Union or PayPal and were routed through overseas locations.
The defendants face charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder money. If found guilty of distribution, the defendants could face a maximum of life in prison.
For those innovative entrepreneur’s that might be eyeing off this recently vacated niche, the fate of The Farmer’s Market’s operators should serve as enough of a deterrence. We can admire them for their e-commerce knack, but everyone in online retail knows that you can’t make a long-term business by selling dodgy product, right?
By Cam Phillips