FBI Shuts Down Silk Road Online Drug Marketplace

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has shut down Silk Road, an online marketplace that sold illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, opioid pills, Ecstasy and LSD. They arrested the operator in San Francisco on narcotics and money-laundering charges, according to The New York Times.

Silk Road could only be accessed by using encryption software called Tor, which shields computers’ IP addresses, allowing people to make purchases anonymously. Silk Road facilitated more than $30 million in sales annually. It had been online since February 2011.

The website also sold other illegal items, such as forged documents and untaxed cigarettes. The site did not use credit cards, instead relying on “Bitcoins,” an untraceable digital currency that is available through online currency exchange services. The website told sellers to make shipments using vacuum-sealed bags so that drug-sniffing dogs would not detect the packages.

The man who created Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, 29, is accused in a criminal complaint of asking a man to kill a Silk Road vendor who had threatened to reveal the identities of people who used the site, the article notes. He is also accused of asking an undercover FBI agent to kill a former employee whom he feared would become a government witness.

Ulbricht had been living in Austin, Texas with his parents until last fall, when he moved to San Francisco. Investigators found his personal e-mail account was linked with early efforts to promote the website.

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