Senators ask Justice Dept. to shut down online drug market

Democratic Sens. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Public awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names MORE (N.Y.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinEnergy companies cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline Trump nominee faces Senate hurdles to securing public lands post OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget 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 HolderTrump official criticizes ex-Clinton spokesman over defunding police tweet Obama to speak about George Floyd in virtual town hall GOP group launches redistricting site 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.