Federal authorities have shut down what they called the “most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today,” an underground operation responsible for distributing illegal drugs and other black market goods and services.
The site’s alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested and $3.6 million in anonymous digital currency known as Bitcoins was seized, said Fox News. The site, which did about $1.2 billion in sales, was taken over by federal authorities, according to court documents in the Southern District of New York.
Ulbricht was alleged to operate a website responsible for distributing hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services, including fake IDs and computer hacking-related services. He was indicted on charges of drug conspiracy, computer intrusion offensives conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy, said Fox News.
Ulbricht used the aliases "Dread Pirate Roberts," "DPR," and "Silk Road" while operating the site, authorities said.
The government seized approximately 26,000 Bitcoins in the largest ever seizure of the online currency designed to be as anonymous as cash.
The website, described as “a sprawling black-market bazaar,” was used by several thousand drug dealers and unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine and LSD as well as other illicit goods and services in more than 1000,000 buys from January 2011 to September 2013, said Fox News. The site also allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of dollars from the illegal transactions.
According to court papers, the site had nearly 13,000 listings under categories including “Cannabis,” “Dissociatives,” “Ecstasy,” “Intoxicants,” “Opioids,” “Precursors,” “Prescription,” “Stimulants” and “Psychedelics.”
As of September 2013, there also were 159 listings in the “services” category, which included vendors offering to hack into Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts of the customer’s choosing, allowing them to “Write, Upload, Delete, View All Person Info” among other information.
One listing offered tutorials on “22 different methods” for hacking ATM machines while. another offered criminal services, including access to a “Blackmarket Contact List” described as a list of “connects” for “services” such as “Anonymous Bank Accounts,” “Counterfeit bills,” “Firearms and Ammunition,” “Stolen Info [credit card, Paypal]” and “Hitmen (10+ countries.)”