Online Drug Site Agora Replaces Silk Road Atop Dark Web

By McCarton Ackerman 09/03/14

Agora has taken over the online drug marketplace by utilizing invite codes and selling other products like semi-automatic firearms.

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Move over, Silk Road. A new black market bazaar called Agora is now ruling the world of drug trading on the Dark Web.

The Digital Citizens Alliance reported last week that Agora now has more product listings than any other black market. They had 7,400 product listings four months ago, but that number has since surpassed both Silk Road at its peak and the new Silk Road 2.0 with 16,137 products for sale. Much like Silk Road, Agora only excepts bitcoins and users are protected by the anonymity software Tor.

“Just as on the rest of the internet, users on the dark net are very quick to move on to new things and move away from those products and websites that seem stale and old,” said Adam Benson, communications director at Digital Citizens Alliance. “Maybe that time has come for Silk Road.”

The primary difference between Agora and other similar sites is that it also allows users to sell several categories of weapons that include semi-automatic firearms. The staff also attempts to keep a low profile on the website and only responds to users when their comments involve administrative issues, like site downtime and scammers.

Although Agora has continued to grow in popularity, the fact that users can only sign up with invite codes has proved to be a winning point. “It might build some allegiance,” said Benson. “It gives users a sense that they’ve been vetted and that some people have been weeded out.”

However, it remains to be seen whether Agora can maintain relatively tight-sealed; a critical mass of drug dealers are now on the site and that is inevitably attracting more customers.

The founder of Silk Road, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested by federal authorities last October and charged with soliciting murder, drug trafficking, money laundering and facilitating computer hacking. He allegedly ran the site under the name “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.