Senators ask Justice Dept. to shut down online drug market

Democratic Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (N.Y.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinStatesmen seek bipartisan solutions to big challenges Both sides have reason to want speedy Trump impeachment trial No one wins with pro-abortion litmus test MORE (W.Va.) are asking the Justice Department to shut down an online market where users can purchase illegal and prescription drugs anonymously.

The pair wrote to Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley Pelosi refers to Sinclair's Rosen as 'Mr. Republican Talking Points' over whistleblower question Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy MORE and Drug Enforcement Administration administrator Michele Leonhart over the weekend asking them to shut down the "Silk Road" website, which launched in February.

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“By allowing users to buy and sell illegal drugs online, the website ‘Silk Road’ is nothing less than a one-stop shop for drugs that needs to be shut down immediately,” Schumer said. “Never before has a website so brazenly peddled illegal drugs online, but by cracking down on the website immediately, we can help stop these drugs from flooding our streets.”

According to recent reports the site lets users buy and sell drugs from each other using an untraceable digital currency known as Bitcoins. After purchasing Bitcoins online a user can create an account on Silk Road and start ordering a wide range of drugs including cocaine, ecstasy, acid and marijuana for home delivery.

The senators argue the attorney general has the authority under the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act to shut down the site for distributing controlled substances by seizing the domain name. The Obama administration has seized more domains than any previous administration, primarily in cases of digital piracy or online counterfeiting.

"As we fight against drug 'pill mills,' we must put an immediate stop to an anonymous online black market that could put even more illicit prescription drugs into our communities and hurt our ability to create and save jobs," Manchin said.

"We must confront this scourge everywhere we find it, whether it’s an online black market or in prescription pill mills flooding our state from Florida.”

The PROTECT IP Act that is currently on hold in the Senate would expand the government's authority to take down and prosecute sites that deal in fake prescription drugs; the site would also significant increase the penalties for illegally distributing pharmaceuticals over the Web.