At the Daily Dot, an unprecedented interview with one of Silk Road 1.0’s biggest heroin and cocaine dealers.

By our third phone call, Steven Lloyd Sadler was a fugitive.

Facing federal charges for drug trafficking and distribution, Sadler decided he’d rather skip the trial and jail sentence altogether. He was pulling away from Seattle, where he was charged, and we talked for hours. He began that particular conversation on speakerphone, attempting to circumvent the state’s law prohibiting the use of cellphones while driving, but noisy interference forced him to pick up the call.

He shrugged as he put his phone to his ear, his other hand taking a firm grip on the wheel.

“I hope I don’t get pulled over.”

I’d spent hours talking to Sadler, one of Silk Road’s most popular heroin and cocaine dealers, before and after he made the decision to run. By late October, he was out on bond, seemingly as a reward for helping Homeland Security in a larger investigation into the infamous Deep Web black market.

The conditions of the bond were clear: Sadler wasn’t allowed leave the state of Washington. He was also strictly forbidden from dealing or using drugs.

“Hold on,” he cut in at one point. “I have to buy some cocaine, can I call you back?”

Five minutes later, he was back on the line, as chatty as ever.

At the time, there was no clear direction forward. Maybe he’d go to Las Vegas on a wild bender. Maybe he’d try to start his drug empire over in Los Angeles. Maybe he’d visit old friends in his hometown who didn’t know about his criminal enterprise.

Sadler talked through each potential scenario, as if working through them in his mind, looking for possibilities and pitfalls. In roughly 10 hours of phone calls over the course of several weeks, Sadler told me almost everything.

Then he dropped off the grid.

Read more at the Daily Dot.

A new study, reported at the Daily Dot.

There are many ways to measure success. For a Deep Web black market famous for its wide selection of drugs, one number trumps all: How many drug users put your product in their bodies?

Silk Road, the recently shut down black market that ruled them all, was enormous. According to a new study titled “Use of Silk Road, the online drug marketplace, in the UK, Australia and the USA,” 18 percent of American drug users got high thanks to Silk Road. This is the first big study of a large sample of drug users who have bought from the Deep Web.

The study was just published in Addiction, a peer-reviewed scientific journal and one of the world’s most influential scientific publications focusing on drugs and psychiatry.

Across a survey of 9,470 respondents in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, the study by the Australian trio of Monica Barratt, Jason Ferris, and Adam Winstock found that Silk Road penetrated most deeply in America. 65 percent of Americans had heard of Silk Road while 18 percent had used drugs bought on the site. 40 percent of British respondents had heard of it and 10 percent had used drugs from it—which is to say, across these two countries, a full quarter of all people who had heard of Silk Road said they’ve used drugs from it.

More on the Daily Dot.

Even though dozens of black markets have come and gone since the original Silk Road fell, few have tried anything new. Virtually all of them have cloned the original in nearly every way, selling themselves to the public on the idea that it was only Ross Ulbricht’s personal mistakes that brought down the empire.

A new group believes there’s a different path to take toward black-market nirvana.

One surviving black market is doing something fundamentally different than its competitors.

Instead of relying solely on the Tor anonymizing network, a new site called “The Marketplace” can be found only on I2P, an anonymizing network launched in 2003 that exists separately from Tor.

A look at the way “The Marketplace” looks to change Deep Web black markets at the Daily Dot.

At least six more arrests for Silk Road vendors and buyers are in the works according to a Wired article citing anonymous law enforcement agents. The continued police action comes as Ross Ulbricht, accused of being the founder of the Deep Web black market, sits in a Brooklyn, New York jail awaiting a Nov. 21 bail hearing.

More at Wired:

Investigators say there are at least half a dozen other arrests currently in the works. In addition, U.S. Postal Inspectors and Customs and Border Protection agents have seized at least 3,000 suspicious packages that authorities say can be tied to Silk Road.

Federal agents say the use of Tor and Bitcoin were major obstacles for them and that investigating the site was “uncharted territory” that involved a reversal of their usual investigative methods. Instead of starting with probable cause against a specific suspect who is already identified and then obtaining a search warrant to collect more evidence, the investigation of Silk Road involved collecting evidence from the site first and then trying to identify individuals.

“Even though we had these obstacles, we were able to still make these arrests,” one official says.

The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission told senators that bitcoins are “legitimate financial instruments,” Bloomberg reports. The news comes just three days ahead of a U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on Bitcoins,

Almost immediately following the article publication at 12:01am ET, the average price of Bitcoins jumped over $50, from $495 to $554, sprinting past the $500 milestone. It has continued to climb to a $583 average in the hours since. At Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange, the currency is already selling for $630.

More at the Daily Dot.

Currently sitting at an all-time high of $400, Bitcoin, the world’s most popular digital currency, doesn’t seem ready to stop climbing. It’s on pace to hit $500 by the end of November, to amass a $6 billion market cap.

To put that in perspective, the market sat at $115 million exactly one year ago. That’s a 3,900 percent increase in 12 months.

Digital currency holders have never felt so vindicated as they do today. They’ve also never been under so many attacks. Hackers are targeting the increasingly valuable cryptocurrency more than ever before. In just the past few weeks, three major thefts have hit the Bitcoin world.

Bitcoin thieves have had a busy month. Check it out on Daily Dot.

At a $400 exchange rate and a $4.6 billion market cap, Bitcoin is booming. More skeptics, cheerleaders, and curious potential investors are talking about it than ever before.

As the world wonders why it’s doing so well, the peer-to-peer currency is on pace to hit two major milestones in the near future.

Bitcoin’s market cap, which is more than double what it was just three weeks ago, is on pace to hit $5 billion around the time bitcoins hit $417, based on the current bitcoin count. As time passes and more bitcoins are mined, that magic number will go down.

Earlier this month, the cryptocurrency sprinted past its previous all-time high exchange rate of $266. Referred to lovingly and derisively as “magic Internet money,” it’s now sitting at a $400 average across all major exchanges.

The price of bitcoins has doubled in the past month. Will it be able to climb all the way to $500?

Check out more on Daily Dot.

Wondering why? See: 7 reasons why Bitcoin is bigger than ever.

Hi, I’m Patrick Howell O’Neill, the guy behind Weirder Web. I write full time at the Daily Dot now. You can also follow me at @chobopeon or visit my site at While it’s plausible that Weirder Web will once again become a central focus in the future, I do all my work at the Daily Dot now.

Note: I will keep posting all the relevant work here so you don’t have to update or follow anything you don’t want to.

In related news, a big new piece is coming up very soon. I’m excited to have you all read it. Talk to you soon.

BBC just commissioned a documentary on the Deep Web black market Silk Road. According to, the film will be coproduced by Vice and Raw TV, precisely the two outfits one expects to present a story like this.

More on Daily Dot.

Tor, I2P, and Freenet have combined to more than double in size in the last year

In the shadow of revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance efforts, anonymity networks have become more popular than ever. Tor, I2P, and Freenet have combined to more than double in size in the last year, and approximately 1,050,000 total machines “legitimately” use the networks on a daily basis, amounting to an anonymous population that is about 0.011 percent of all machines currently connected to the Internet.

Read more at the Daily Dot.