Senators ask Justice Dept. to shut down online drug market

Democratic Sens. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAnti-Trump Republicans on the line in 2022 too Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo Democrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol MORE (N.Y.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Budget impasses mark a critical turning point in Biden's presidency Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo 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 HolderOregon legislature on the brink as Democrats push gerrymandered maps Christie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group Democrats look to state courts as redistricting battle heats up 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.