Online drug market closing, will donate left over user cash to ‘drug related charity’

September 20, 2013
These are the sort of things you could have bought through Atlantis before it closed. (Government of Alberta)
These are the sort of things you could have bought through Atlantis before it closed. (Government of Alberta)

Did you know you can buy drugs online? And I'm not talking Canadian pharmaceutical imports. I'm talking illegal, intoxicating substances. There are a handful of online (and underground) markets that can be reached using Tor where users can order their fixes via the Internet, the most popular being Silk Road. But one of the flashiest recent entries, Atlantis, just bowed out of the market, citing security concerns.

Atlantis launched in March and had a surprisingly public marketing strategy for a place dedicated to selling illegal goods: YouTube videos, pitches to journalists, and a reddit AMA to start with. And it seemed like it was working out pretty well, with a reported $520,000 in sales in its first three months.

But on Friday the high-flying marketplace announced on Facebook that it is closing its virtual doors:

We have some terrible news. Regrettably it has come time for Atlantis to close its doors. Due to security reasons outside of our control we have no choice but to cease operation of the Atlantis Market marketplace. Believe us when we say we wouldn't be doing this if it weren't 100% necessary.

Due to the urgency we are allowing all users to withdrawal all their coins for one week before the site, and forum, are shut down permanently. Please remove all of your coins, these will not be recoverable after one week from now. Anything remaining in your accounts will be donated to a drug related charity of our choosing.

We wish to thank all of you for making Atlantis a great and memorable place to trade on. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

We here at The Switch would like some clarification on this "drug related charity" of the Atlantis crew's choosing. Are they talking drug treatment or buying drugs for poor people?

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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Andrea Peterson · September 20, 2013