The fallout of online drug sales raises questions

There are likely many people in Minneapolis who have heard the name Silk Road and they know it is not referring to the Central Asian trade route. Silk Road has been an online marketplace in which drug sellers and buyers could transact their business. For the past two years, the FBI has been looking for the individual behind the website and they have finally arrested the man they believe to be responsible. So, what does that mean for Minnesotans?

Well, even if this website was run and operated by the man federal law enforcement officers have arrested, he wasn’t the only one selling and buying contraband substances. Now that he has been arrested, law enforcement may start searching for the individuals with accounts on the website, some of whom may be from Minnesota.

There are, undoubtedly, some people with profiles on Silk Road who joined out of curiosity, not because of a drug habit. The question is, however, will police be able to discriminate between active users and these curious folk? Will they even try? Are individuals who went to Silk Road just to see what their friends were talking about going to be exposed to serious drug charges? As of yet, it remains to be seen.

Fortunately, even if the FBI does start rounding up Minnesotans with profiles on Silk Road, prosecutors will still need to build enough evidence that each individual arrested was involved in the drug trade. If they cannot, there will be no chance of conviction and charges must be dropped. This alone may deter federal law enforcement from trying to bring cases against many people on Silk Road.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “End of Silk Road for drug users as FBI shuts down illicit website,” Stuart Pfeifer, Shan Li and Walter Hamilton, Oct. 2, 2013

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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