EIGHT PEOPLE have been arrested and indicted for their roles in an online drug store that supplied controlled substances under the counter to web punters.
The arrests happened in the US, the Netherlands and Colombia under an operation called "Adam Bomb" that involved parties including the US Postal Service, Dutch Police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The US Attorneys office for the Central District of California said that the gang used the TOR anonymising network to sell drugs to around 3,000 customers in 34 countries.
The store was called the "Farmer's Market" but is unlike any of the ones we have been to. The court documents say that it sold marijuana, ecstasy and LSD and made around $1m from approximately 5,000 orders. The suspects have all been charged with drug trafficking and money laundering.
It sounds like it was a sophisticated operation, and the people that ran it would charge a commission based on the value of any shipments and offered customer service friendly features like advice on packaging deliveries. Customers paid for their drugs with systems ranging from Western Union transfers to Paypal.
The authorities seized unknown quantities of hashish, ecstasy and LSD, and have vowed to keep working together to do so.
"Illegal narcotics trafficking now reaches every corner of our world, including our home computers," said US Attorney André Birotte Jr.
"But the reach of the law is just as long, and the Department of Justice will work with its partners, both nationally and internationally, to bring narcotics traffickers to justice, wherever they may hide. Working together, we want to make the Internet a safe and secure marketplace by rooting out and prosecuting those persons who seek to illegally pervert and exploit that market."
The 'War on Drugs' that is supported and prolonged by the US does not have support in all quarters though, and the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper said he favours taking another approach to the problem.
"I think what everyone believes and agrees with, and to be frank myself, is that the current approach is not working, but it is not clear what we should do," he said this week, according to a report in the Globe and Mail.
Harper's comments came during a meeting of Western hemisphere leaders in Columbia where there was a general consensus that since the bulk of the illegal drugs trade is consumed in America then the US should work harder to deal with that problem. µ