The illicit drug trade came to public attention last week with the arrest of Ross Ulbricht who had allegedly constructed an online bazaar known as “Silk Road,” which used Bitcoin as the coin of the underworld realm. The creation of this borderless, virtual opium den spawned trade in both legal and illegal goods and drugs that spanned many the world.
With masked computer servers and the difficult to track Bitcoin exchange, Silk Road allegedly conducted more than a billion dollars worth of commercial transactions in the Internet’s wild and virtually tax-free frontier. Like many in the illicit drug trade, greed and notoriety may have gotten the better of Ulbricht before he was taken down last week in his highly publicized arrest for his alleged role in Silk Road. Noteworthy of Ulbricht’s arrests is the true power and reach of law enforcement when it works cooperatively on a global scale.
While the thought of a virtual currency, unencumbered by national borders, currency exchange rates, or taxes is an appealing one, the belief that the anonymous activities in the electronic netherworld cannot be discovered, arrested and/or prosecuted for engaging in drug distribution conspiracies and networks is flawed. Not only can a purchaser or vendor be charged in the distribution conspiracy, but they may be additionally charged with money laundering as well – a particularly punitive criminal offense that can bring financial ruin upon an accused.
HIGH TIMES attorney David Holland, Esq. now provides legal advice for the cannabis community.