The FBI said Wednesday that it raided Silk Road, an Internet site that serves as a marketplace for illegal drugs (including heroin and cocaine), and arrested its owner.
According to reports, the FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht, 29, a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts, in San Francisco on Tuesday. Federal prosecutors charged him with one count each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy, according to Reuters.
The FBI posted this notice on Silk Road.
Silk Road is -- or was -- an anonymous Internet marketplace for drugs and criminal activities such as murder for hire, Reuters reported.
"Silk Road has emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today," FBI agent Christopher Tarbell said in the criminal complaint.
The site was used by "several thousand drug dealers" to sell "hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs," he said.
The site opened in early 2011 and offered tutorials on hacking ATM machines, contacts for black-market connections and counterfeiters, and guns and hit men for sale, according to the charges as reported by Reuters. More than 900,000 registered users bought and sold drugs using Bitcoin. "In recent media reports about the growing popularity of Bitcoin, the Silk Road website has emerged as part of a darker side to the use of digital currencies," Reuters said. Authorities seized $3.6 billion in Bitcoin during the raid by taking control of digital wallets.
Investigators used Silk Road to make more than 100 purchases of drugs, which were shipped to the New York area, Reuters said.
Ulbricht operated the site form San Francisco, at times using computers at Internet cafes to access servers, which used technologies to mask their location and the identities of administrators and users. Reuters also interviewed his parents. His mother describes him as "a really stellar, good person and very idealistic."
Ulbricht himself tried to take out a hit against a Silk Road user, Reuters reports.
The criminal complaint is here.
"The government says it identified Ulbricht after a routine border search of a package that contained nine counterfeit IDs," The Washington Post reported. "The package was shipped from Canada to an address in San Francisco. When the government visited the San Francisco address, they found Ulbricht there."
As more information comes to light on this, let's share it in the comments below.
— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution