Buying Your Drugs Online Is Good for You
Silk Road 2.0, the successor to the deep web’s most infamous marketplace, just passed a new milestone. Despite a dramatic holiday season, when three of its staff and several vendors were arrested on conspiracy charges, there are now over 10,000 narcotics listings on its pixelated shelves. And, according to its acting administrator “Defcon”, traffic to the website has doubled since December.
So it appears that the site—where you can anonymously get your hands on pretty much any substance you want, as well as a bunch of other illegal stuff that you’d usually need Turkish mob connections to access—is just as resilient to the feds as its current ownershad promised it would be.
And far from the digital trap house many have depicted it to be, Silk Road 2.0 has continued its predecessor’s aim of allowing drug users to make informed decisions about their use of psychoactive substances, both by providing products that are open to quality checks and through the spread of honest information about how to take those products as safely as possible.
"He is normally a very lovely lad and very bright. But unfortunately, he had started dabbling in drugs."
—Rolling Stone looks at “meow meow,” the drug that made a teen cut off his penis.
This Guy Is Mapping London’s Drug Use with a Discarded Baggie Map
What do you do with your leftover drug paraphernalia? Unless you’re one of those ambitious stoner hoarders who insists on keeping stems for pots of weed tea you’ll never brew, chances are you throw everything away. And if you’re homeless—or someone who enjoys getting high around strangers, or in parks—it’s likely you chuck your empty baggies on the floor or into a bush, kindly leaving them for 10-year-olds to bring into school and use as props in stories about their fictional weekend exploits.
Since January of this year, photographer Dan Giannopoulos has been taking photos of all the discarded baggies he finds throughout south-east London. He’s also been jotting down their geographic coordinates with the aim of eventually mapping out all the bags he’s found and working out whether any patterns emerge. I had a quick chat with Dan about his project.
A map we made out of the baggie coordinates that Dan has gathered so far (Click to enlarge)
VICE: Hey Dan. So far, what has the project taught you about Londoners’ drug use?
Dan Giannopoulos: I’ve been working on it since about January this year, and I haven’t had a chance to map everything fully yet, so at the moment it’s isolated to south-east London. But I tend to find more bags in more of the working-class areas I’ve been to—the kind of areas that have a reputation for drug use. But then I’ve had bags show up in places like Blackheath, which is quite a posh area. It’s quite random at the moment, but I was going to carry on working on it for a year or so and map any patterns that show up.
Is there a variation of drugs between those areas?
It tends to be more weed around the well-to-do areas.
Floridians Are Losing Their Minds on Synthetic Cannabis
The rumors are floating among bystanders in downtown St. Petersburg, where a body lies motionless on the sidewalk, covered by a plastic sheet. Was it over a stolen lighter? Or was it a bicycle? It doesn’t matter. Kenneth Robert Sprankle finally snapped. Just like he said he would.
On the afternoon of September 24, Sprankle “borrowed” a red and yellow firefighter’s axe from a fire engine responding to an alarm at the Princess Martha Apartments. He started his evening by smoking spice, grabbing the axe, and wandering through downtown. Surveillance video caught Sprankle clutching the axe across his waist as he walked purposefully through the frame, seemingly oblivious to concerned onlookers trailing him from a safe distance. Witnesses recalled seeing him in an agitated state, wandering around nearby Williams Park with the axe for nearly three hours. Nobody bothered reporting him to police until things began to unwind, and Sprankle began yelling incomprehensible threats and chasing terrified citizens down bustling sidewalks.
St. Petersburg police quickly responded to an emergency call. The small group fleeing his erratic pursuit rounded a corner and ran past the officers. Moments later, Sprankle followed, axe raised menacingly. His world was closing in. Ignoring repeated orders to drop the axe, he charged. As Sprankle closed the distance, axe held high, veteran officer Damien Schmidt leveled a pistol at his chest and fired.
Five shots later, Ken Sprankle’s body crumpled to the sidewalk. The holes in his chest were fatal. He was 27.
These two ads from a new campaign for Swarovski jewelry feature bony models getting “caught” buying and—gasp—even damn near eating food. Ladies? Better get yourselves some shiny baubles to deflect attention away from your disgusting habit of consuming life-giving sustenance.
—The Worst Advertising, Marketing, and Social Media Screwups of November
Congress’s Drug Problem
On October 29, a 37-year-old Republican Congressman named Henry “Trey” Radel fucked up. He bought $260 worth of coke while at a restaurant in DC’s trendy Dupont Circle neighborhood, but the guy selling it turned out to be an undercover cop who was part of a targeted sting operation. When news of the “cocaine Congressman” was reported by Politico this week, a predictable sequence of events played out: a guilty plea, probation but no prison time, and an announcement that he has a drug problem and plans to take a leave of absence from his job while he seeks treatment for it. Presumably he’ll come back eventually, tell the press that he’s in recovery thanks to his family and the grace of God, and the Tea Partiers who elected him in Florida may even love him all the more for having faced down his demons so publicly.
Radel is hardly an important DC figure—he only got elected last year, and before this coke incident he was most known for loving hip-hop and making his own beats. His personal drama is mostly a sideshow, a story that will be forgotten then occasionally brought up as a funny anecdote: “Hey, remember that Tea Party dude who loved Tupac and got caught with cocaine?” It’s not even a story that lends itself to puffed-up allegations of Republican hypocrisy, since Radel has beenbroadly in favor of reforming failed drug war policies. (Though he did support drug testing for food stamp recipients, so maybe he’s into some icky poor-people-shouldn’t-do-drugs-but-rich-folks-can shit.) But one thing this incident shows is just how strangely the legal system works when it comes to drugs.
Good News, Drug Users: Silk Road Is Back! VICE Got a Sneak Peek
Silk Road has risen from the dead. After the FBI seized the deep web’s favorite illegal drug market and arrested its alleged founder Ross Ulbricht last month (for, among other things, ordering a hit through his own website), the online-marketplace-cum-libertarian-movement has found a new home and opened for business today at 11:20 AM EST.
In the wake of the original Silk Road’s closure, everything became a little turbulent for its users. First, they had to get used to not getting high-quality, peer-reviewed drugs delivered direct to their sofas. (Though presumably they didn’t stop getting high, instead forced back to the “mystery mix” street dealers and surly ex-Balkan war criminals who have spent years filling cities with drugs at night.) Some users were pissed off that they’d lost all the Bitcoin wealth they’d amassed, or that paid-for orders would go undelivered, while small-time dealers freaked out about how they suddenly lacked the funds to pay off debts owed to drug sellers higher up the food chain.
Viable Silk Road replacements have been few and far between. Project Black Flag, one marketplace purportedly created to fill the void, appears to have been a scam. The site’s owner recently closed up shop and made off with a load of Bitcoins without sending any product out to customers. Another alternative, Sheep, has been plagued with security worries, with many vendors deciding to hold off until a more stable site is launched.
Canadian Cops Ambushed a First Nations Anti-Fracking Protest
What started out as a peaceful demonstartion held by members of First Nations tribes turned into what resembled a war zone after the Canadian cops showed up with guns, Tasers, and dogs yesterday in New Brusnwick, Canada, leading to five police cars getting torched and 40 people being arrested on charges ranging from intimidation, uttering threats, and mischief.
The protesters had been blocking an entrace to a compound owned by SWN Resources since late September in protest of the oil company’s plans to conduct seismic testing and potentially start fracking operations on tribal lands. On Thursday morning at around 7:30 AM, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, a.k.a. the Mounties) went in to break up the blockade, but the protesters I spoke to in the aftermath claimed that the cops were much too aggressive and seemed out to spread terror and bust heads in what amounted to an ambush.
“We had no idea this was going to be happening. They showed up with guns in our faces this morning. It was terrifying. They even brought dogs with them today, it was so scary and unbelievable,” said Susan Levi-Perf, a member of the Mi’kmaq tribe. “I have never seen anything like this in Canada in my lifetime—I’ve [only] seen it on TV.”
Has Krokodil, the Flesh-Eating Russian Street Drug, Made Its Way to the US and UK?
You remember when we first alerted you to the joys of krokodil, right? In case you’d forgotten, it’s a drug from Russia that is just like heroin, except that it eats your flesh alive(NSFW link) because it’s made of painkillers cut with things like gasoline and sulfur. In other words, it’s probably the worst drug in the world. Well, unfortunately, it seems to be spreading. It made headlines last week when reports came through that it was being used in Arizona. And in the UK, Dr. Allan Harris, a specialist in treating drug addicts and the homeless, has reported that “there are plenty of warning signs” that krokodil is being used in Gloucester, where his drug clinic is. In an article he wrote for the Independent, he also mentioned that he’d treated a man in his early 30s who he believed had injected krokodil.
I called Dr. Harris to discuss his findings. We tried to negotiate whether to call the drug “krokodil” (from the Russian) or to Anglicize it now that it had made its way over from the mainland and start referring to it as “crocodile.” (I’ve used the former here, but Dr. Harris was pretty adamant about using the latter.) More importantly, it was an illuminating insight into the UK’s depressing cutting-drugs-with-things-that-are-even-worse-for-you-than-drugs scene.
VICE: So is it just the one case of krokodil that you found?
Dr Alan Harris: Yeah, I mean, it’s a bit retrospective really because it was a few years ago now. At the time, I just thought it was the citric acid burns of a heroin user, but looking back the tissue destruction was far, far in excess [of what you’d expect from that]. When you get citric acid issues you usually get second-degree burns, but this actually took out a huge crater of all the forearm muscle. When you took out the dead tissue you could actually see the tendons moving at the base of this crater and the bones as well—so pretty much like these horrific pictures you see on the warning leaflets for krokodil. It actually got to a point where he couldn’t move his right hand any more because it weakened the muscle so much. He could roll a cigarette and that was about it.
So how did they treat it?
They put a free skin graft over the top, which all healed OK but it was horrendous. The muscles never grew back because they were completely gangrenous. Looking back, it didn’t fit at all with citric acid because that’s an irritant but no worse than a slight infection. This was actually very, very disproportionate. From one small injection he took out the area of about 12 by eight centimeters of tissue, and quite deep as well—skin down to bone.
Hey Kids, Smoking Alcohol Isn’t As Cool As It Sounds
For quite a while, I’ve wanted to try the hot, new degenerate trend of smoking alcohol, especially after watching the above video, where YouTube user skippy62able teaches the world how to vaporize booze with nothing more than a plastic bottle and a bicycle pump with a cork attached. The hundreds of articles from concerned party poopers shouting, “Danger: this will kill you!” did nothing to deter me. Everyone in the media is saying the chances of overdosing on alcohol are far greater because it goes directly to your lungs and brain rather than making a pit stop for processing in your liver. All of these “experts” couldn’t be right, so I decided to hit up my buddy Ian to find out for ourselves.
Ian has been experimenting with fun new ways to damage his brain since his teens, so I figured he’d be all about this adventure. I showed him the video, and the next night we planned our big event. I’ll admit I was nervous. Part of me felt this would be a lot of fun if we were careful about it, but the other part of me knew that neither of us are all that good at being careful. I’ve learned over the years that it takes three vodka drinks to get me chatty, the gin drink I have afterward makes me flirt with every human being in sight, the two following whiskey shots make me regret all of my major life decisions, and the final shot of tequila ensures I wake up on the floor of a stranger’s house. With that in mind, I knew this was either going to be a great night or the night I was responsible for someone’s death. When I expressed my hesitation to Ian, he slapped me and screamed “YOLO!” which was all I needed to hear.