At the headquarters of Energy Control in Barcelona, Northern Spain, a nondescript envelope arrives. Hidden inside, between layers of cardboard and tape, are two fluorescent pink pills purchased from one of many eBay-style marketplaces on the dark web, aka the ‘hidden Internet’.
For €50-worth of bitcoin, the non-profit provides anyone in the world with a breakdown of the substances contained in their drugs – and the quantity – no questions asked.
Energy Control has been carrying out drug checking in raves and at its labs since 1998. Its dark web service, introduced in April 2014, operates under the same premise: to reduce harm among users by arming them with facts.
The idea for the project can be traced back to a family physician named Fernando Caudevilla, commonly known as Dr X. Following his first post to the Silk Road forum in April 2013, six months before the market’s FBI shutdown, he became a trusted source of guidance on drug safety across many dark markets.
Up until this point, Energy Control, which is over 90% government funded, had only offered services inside Spain. However, Caudevilla – who has worked with the organisation since 2000 – saw the potential for