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Silk Road Shut Down: FBI Ends Online Drug Market; Leader Arrested

By    |   Wednesday, 02 October 2013 04:24 PM

Silk Road, a massive online drug marketplace, has been shut down by the FBI, and "Dread Pirate Roberts," the man authorities say founded the black-market vendor, has been arrested.

Ross William Ulbricht, 29, was arrested Tuesday in San Francisco by federal agents following a 2 1/2-year investigation. He was charged with drug trafficking, computer hacking, and money laundering, according to CNN Money.

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On Silk Road's "hidden" web site, a banner reads: "This hidden site has been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation," and explains that the IRS, Homeland Security, and the DEA also participated in the investigation.

Ulbricht was arrested at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library. In a Sept. 27 complaint, the FBI identified Ulbricht as the infamous "Dread Pirate Roberts," who created Silk Road. A person under that name was interviewed by Forbes in August about the site and his goal to create a virtual world beyond government taxes and laws.

In a separate interview, Ulbricht said he actually took the site over from the original founder, similar to the fictional Dread Pirate Roberts character from the popular novel and film, "The Princess Bride."

"DPR" is feared across the seas for his sword-fighting ability and is known for not taking prisoners, but also has his very name passed down from a predecessor.

Silk Road began in 2011 and ran on an anonymous network known as Tor, software that makes it complicated to trace online activity. The site only accepted the digital currency bitcoin, which added still more customer anonymity. Ulbricht allegedly owned and operated the underground website for drug dealers and hackers that earned about $1.2 billion in sales, the FBI told Forbes.

The FBI said the site was also used to trade firearms and hire trained killers, including one hired by Ulbricht himself to allegedly take out a user who was extorting money from him.

In addition to the other charges in the complaint, the government alleges that Ulbricht paid 1,670 bitcoins, about $150,000, to kill a Silk Road user seeking to extort money, Forbes reports.

The FBI called the site, "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today."

"This is supposed to be some invisible black market bazaar. We made it visible," an FBI spokesperson, who asked not to be named, told Forbes. "When [Forbes] interviewed [Ulbricht], he said he would never be arrested. But no one is beyond the reach of the FBI. We will find you."

Word of his capture sent a rift through the Silk Road community. One user blamed the Dread Pirate Roberts' hubris, including the profile-raising interview to Forbes.

"Sorry, but when he gave the [expletive] Forbes interview I imagined this would be coming," wrote a user who called himself “Dontek.” "Should have kept all this [expletive] on the down low rather than publicly bragging about it."

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Silk Road, a massive online drug marketplace, has been shut down by the FBI, and "Dread Pirate Roberts," the man authorities say founded the black-market vendor, has been arrested.
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Wednesday, 02 October 2013 04:24 PM
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