Professors Argue Silk Road Reduced Drug Violence | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Professors Argue Silk Road Reduced Drug Violence

The controversial site has spawned a new breed of drug dealer that thrives on anonymity and doesn't resort to more traditional tactics.


Today's drug dealer. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman


| Share

Silk Road may have been shut down by federal authorities last fall, but a new study from a law professor and a professor of criminal science argues that the website may have actually reduced drug violence.

University of Lausanne criminologist David Decary-Hetu and University of Manchester law professor Judith Aldridge referred to Silk Road as a “paradigm-shifting criminal innovation” due to the physical location of users being hidden with anonymity software. Because of this, they argue that old-fashioned business skills and not intimidation through violence were the key to success on the site. Their paper is currently being submitted for review to an academic journal they declined to name.

“This new breed of drug dealer is… likely to be relatively free from the violence typically associated with traditional drug markets,” read the paper. “Whereas violence [in the traditional drug trade] was commonly used to gain market share, protect turfs and resolve conflicts, the virtual location and anonymity that the cryptomarket provides reduces or eliminates the need – or even the ability – to resort to violence. In the drugs cryptomarket era, having good customer service and writing skills…may be more important than muscles and face-to-face connections.”

The study itself also doesn’t list any statistical evidence to back up its theory. However, they used a custom web scrawler to search through feedback and review data of all the site’s vendor profiles, and found that many Silk Road users were likely dealers and not consumers. The top 20 percent of deals on the site went for more than $1,000 and brought in between 31 and 45 percent of a sellers’ total revenue. The study also said that substances which are considered to be less harmful, such as synthetic marijuana, generated far more revenue than substances such as heroin and crack cocaine.

Prior to his arrest last October, Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht said he wanted his site to give power back to small-time drug dealers and take it away from violent cartels. “Some, especially the cartels, are basically a de facto violent power hungry state, and surely would love nothing more than to take control of a national government,” he wrote on the site in 2012. “But your average joe pot dealer, who wouldn’t hurt a fly, that guy became my hero…It wasn’t long, maybe a year or two after this realization that the pieces started coming together for the Silk Road.”

Of course, Ulbricht has been accused by prosecutors of paying would-be assassins to kill six people, including a blackmailer and an employee he worried would snitch to authorities.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv