If you can buy holidays, insurance, clothes, books and food on the internet, medicines are a natural fit. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that the growth of digital drugs has made it a cause of real concern.
Some people have styled it ‘extreme shopping’. Not to be confused with ‘extreme sports’, it’s a phrase that the media could adopt in the coming years as the ease with people will be acquiring illicit drugs at the clicks of their mice, makes it a trade to be contended with.
Willard Foxton wrote in online magazine, The Kernel (July 2012) that people have started to move their drug habits ‘totally online’. Foxton found that such people are raving about it, the reliability, the speed of delivery, the lack of imminent danger and hassle from the law.
And the prices! The market place principles are kicking into this line of business, as with others.
Foxton carried out a thorough study. He thought that to go extreme shopping would be difficult, clandestine and hidden with secret passwords. On the contrary. Nestled among the classifieds for viagra and painkillers, arthritis and wart treatments are every kind of substance.
Percocet (a narcotic painkiller), 420 (marijuana), browns (heroine) and ‘ask for Charlie’ (cocaine) are on offer in quite serious amounts. Ketamine is used for animals, but is available for human consumption. Adderall, the concentration aid is a big seller.
Ritalin, Hydros Blues and Afghan hash, promised one ad he found in ‘Health and Beauty’ on Craigslist, ‘just get back to me if you are in need.’ In the ‘Home and Garden’ section, Foxton discovered khat (Somali chewing cocaine).
He put himself out and managed to meet some of the online dealers. One turned out to have a straight day job, but was a party drug dealer by night, advertising on Gumtree. After a period of being around the seedy, shady plans he chose to ‘anonymise’ himself on the web.
He owned up to making around £2000 a month, ‘nice on top of the salary, but I’m not buying a yacht any time soon.’ He claims never to had any problems with the law, ‘I think they have bigger fish to fry’.
Coffee Shop Offices
Another dealer Foxton met was more like a computer nerd. They met in a coffee shop that offers free WiFi to customers, and he described it as one of his offices. He moves to a different one every time he checks his ads or sends emails ‘to conceal his IP address.’
Adderall, the concentration aid is a big seller around exam time to young people. It also suppresses appetite and is popular with girls. He said that Facebook helps expand his network of buyers all the time, personal recommendation, in effect. This one has turned over around £200,000 of which a quarter is profit.
The third dealer Foxton met was ‘the most disturbing of the three’, only dealing in serious drugs. He drove his BMW around while they talked. He used to send people around the country delivering, but it was too much hassle. ‘These websites are brilliant, we sell, all done by email, we don’t know them. Perfect.’
And that not knowing who anybody is the instant appeal. Of course he could be selling to undercover cops, but it’s not very likely. ‘We pack it, ship it, forget it’. If the money isn’t in PayPal, no deal.
Foxton’s analysis of this last one was most telling. He was the ‘classic digital immigrant’, who was running to keep up with the ‘tech-driven disruption of the industry he grew up into.’ This man had handled the emergence of digital competitors better than people in other (legal) industries have.
He felt that the future belonged to digital natives ‘leveraging sophisticated methods to acquire, track and sell to other young people’ at the click of a mouse.
Well, that’s enterprise. Sometimes it produces good, sometimes not. And extreme shopping gives whole new meaning to retailing.
The Kernel Magazine, Willard Foxton, Web Traffic, 12 July 2012