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In the digital drug trade as in the physical one, taking out one kingpin only makes room for another ready to satisfy the market’s endless demand. In the case of the FBI’s takedown of the Silk Road, the latest of the up-and-coming drug kingpins is far more evolved than its predecessor—and far less principled.
Since it launched early this year, the anonymous black market bazaar Evolution has grown dramatically, nearly tripling its sales listings in just the last five months. It now offers more than 15,000 mostly illegal products ranging from weapons to weed, cocaine, and heroin. That’s thousands more than the Silk Road ever hosted. And Evolution’s popularity has been driven not only by a more secure and professional operation than its competitors, but also by a more amoral approach to the cryptomarket than the strict libertarian ethos the Silk Road preached. Case in point: About 10 percent of Evolution’s products are stolen credit card numbers and credentials for hacked online accounts.