Money Laundering, Narcotrafficking, and the End of the Silk Road Website

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Rachel Cruse

  On October 1, 2013, the FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht in San Francisco’s Glen Park Branch Library, on charges stemming from his alleged role as the owner and operator of the Silk Road Web site.[2]  The FBI worked with the DEA, IRS, DHS, and other government agencies to gather evidence and determine the identities of Silk Road administrators and users.[3] From January 2011 until the FBI shut it down in September 2013, Ulbricht allegedly promoted and operated the Silk Road Web site,[4] which was only accessible via the Tor network, using it as an online black market mimicking conventional retailers like Amazon and Ebay.[5]  The Silk Road (SR) was advertised as a marketplace where illegal drugs, weapons, or computer hacking tools and services could be purchased anonymously without attracting the attention of law enforcement.  Federal agents were able to connect Ulbricht with postings in online forums made under the username “altoid”, publicizing the benefits of SR, and ultimately identified him as the person responsible for its operation.