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The secret world of the underground web

Vince Vitrano, Stephanie Graham

Photo: Video by tmj4.com

The secret world of the underground web

CREATED Jun. 21, 2013

It's a secret world used by criminals to buy and sell just about anything:  Super star heroin and high-quality cocaine, Cambodian hookers, explosives, detonators, and guns. Its users are hard to trace and they're a driver of crime.  Your dark fix is in the underbelly of the web. 

It takes an IT expert like computer tech Ryan Niederberger to find these sites.  He recalls, "It was just shocking very shocking to see the things you could buy on this website. It was pretty incredible."

Niederberger explains how it is done.  "The very first place it brings you to you've got one ounce of marijuana, oxycotin, and heroin."

Web pages listed as hidden wikis are loaded with offers--for a new identity and citizenship, exotic message and professional hit men, or a killer for hire.

"It's really off the radar," says defense attorney Lee Hollander.  He specializes in computer crimes.  He adds, "There's no centralized server activity for law enforcement to monitor, so the government cannot track this."

This netherworld operates peer-to-peer, communicating from one computer to another-- accessible on a network called 'torr'.

"It's a pretty interesting way of sending information and being able to hide who you are," Niederberger says.

Torr scrambles your location making people's identities virtually untraceable.

We reached out to the DEA to find out whether they're cracking down on this underworld.  In an e-mail, a spokesman from Washington DC told us they 'can't confirm or deny investigations' but confirmed that 'trafficking can reach... our home computers.'

"Right now, it's like the wild west.  Anything goes until the marshall comes to town and that could be years down the road," Hollander explains.

Most of the sellers don't take cash or credit cards.  They take bitcoins-- a virtual currency that's unregulated and also almost impossible to trace. 

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