Silk Road, an infamous website specializing in the buy and sell of illegal drugs and other goods, was raided and closed after federal agents captured and arrested site owner Ross William Ulbricht in San Francisco. Ulbricht was better known by his Silk Road account handle of “Dread Pirate Roberts”. Silk Road is believed to have moved over 1.2 billion dollars in merchandise since the sites inception with the site itself taking in 80 million in transaction fees.
"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. According to Tarbell, the site was used by "several thousand drug dealers" to sell "hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs." Ulbricht’s arrest is another sign that the War on Drugs is here to stay.
Federal prosecutors in New York charged Ulbricht with one charge each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering. I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the favorite to play Ulbricht in the inevitable upcoming biopic, Silk Road.
Allegedly, Ulbricht attempted to murder a former Silkroad business associate after said associate threatened to release the names and info of major Silk Road Distributors. It was the fallout from that incident that helped police build a case against the Silk Road owner. Ulbricht currently sits in a Bay Area prison awaiting further sentencing.
Silk Road success mirrored the thoughts of Twitter founder, Ev Williams: make a site that lets people do what they want as easily as possible.
Full disclosure: I am personally familiar with Silk Road, and was active on the site a few years ago. I was never much interested in the products on the site, but instead found myself fascinated by the entire operation. All of Silk Road was based on the concept of mutual anonymity, with all transactions involving the Bit Coin. The Bit Coin has evolved far beyond “the thing you use to buy drugs on Silk Road”, but the legacy of the site and its young owner will resonate for years to come.
Carbonated.TV will update you with further news on the story. That is, if that last paragraph I wrote doesn’t get me fired somehow.