Letter to Eric Holder, US Attorney General - Dept. of Justice Review of How 'Dark Web' Drug Sales Continue to Grow


Date: Oct. 27, 2014

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
905 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder,

Under your leadership, the Department of Justice has made significant progress to prevent the abuse of dangerous and illegal substances. However, I write today to ask for your continued assistance in the fight against these drugs in light of recent events. Over the last several years, we have seen a treacherous and rapidly growing avenue develop for criminals to carry out illicit activities. ?‎

Though the internet has become essential to many Americans day-to-day lives, it has also helped to facilitate an illegal market for dangerous narcotics including prescription drugs, cocaine, and even heroin. The "dark web" has assisted in shielding these criminals from law enforcement. In 2011, I asked that the DOJ work diligently to shut down "Silk Road," an online marketplace for drugs, guns, and other illegal activity. With your help, the Silk Road was shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2013, and I am pleased that DOJ is currently prosecuting its operator and holding him accountable. ‎Regrettably, however, new sites have recently sprung up in Silk Road's place.

According to an investigation by Newsday, both the number of encrypted "dark web" websites that sell illegal drugs, and the number of drug listings of heroin, cocaine and meth on those sites have doubled to over 40,000 since 2013‎. Federal law enforcement must remain vigilant in your efforts to combat this growth, and that is why I ask that you conduct a comprehensive review of federal efforts to address the expansion of narcotics trafficking on the internet. The continued abuse of these drugs is detrimental to our development as a society, and I will continue to fight to ensure that you have adequate resources to conduct this important work.

Again, thank you for your continued efforts to protect and defend our country, and I commend your extensive public service. I look forward to working with you and the Department of Justice to stem the growth of this dangerous and unregulated marketplace, and I eagerly await your response.


Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator