Senators ask Justice Dept. to shut down online drug market

Democratic Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US Colombian official urges more help for Venezuelan migrants MORE (N.Y.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Kentucky Democrat says primary challenge to McGrath 'might be helpful' McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments 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 HolderFeds will not charge officer who killed Eric Garner The old 'state rights' and the new state power The Hill's Morning Report — Harris brings her A game to Miami debate 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.