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Report: illicit online drug trade up 75 percent

After a crackdown on the illegal online drug trade last year, the FBI seized the “Silk Road” website and arrested its founder, 29-year-old Ross Ulbricht.

But now, competitors have made some changes and the site has rebuilt, drawing more traffic and sales than before Ulbricht’s arrest.

According to a report released Wednesday by the Digital Citizens Alliance, the black market drug economy has grown 75 percent in six months.

To find out just what is being sold on Silk Road 2.0, ABC 17 News downloaded the only browser that works with Silk Road because it’s anonymous.

After just 20 minutes, ABC 17 News was browsing page after page of illicit drugs for sale, including cocaine, heroin and even LSD.

Drug aren’t the only thing offered on Silk Road. ABC 17 News found forged official-looking documents, hacking techniques and anonymous mail drops.

Most of these items can be found on the Open Web, but researchers say what makes Silk Road thrive is the anonymity to get contraband.

Additional arrests have been made surrounding the site within the last few months and the FBI is actively involved in an ongoing investigation.

Silk Road users purchase the products using Bitcoin, which is a digital currency that allows a person to hide their identity.

Regulators are pushing for Bitcoin exchanges to require identification, but right now, it’s anonymous.

ABC 17 News put in a call to the FBI in Kansas City about the crackdown on the illicit drug trade online, but calls have not been returned yet.

The Digital Citizens Alliance has some tips for concerned parents:

They recommend checking to see if an anonymous software browser has been downloaded to a child’s computer or smartphone. They also say if a child asks for money to convert to Bitcoin, make sure to ask what they plan on using the digital currency for. And finally, the group says to check the mail. Even though the order is made online, the products still come through the mail.

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