The FBI has officially shut down the underground site “Silk Road.” Operating since January 2011, the site gave drug dealers a platform to sell heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine, among other drugs and illicit goods. The site allowed people to anonymously buy illegal drugs. Silk Road gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade, because its extensive network of routes.
The site worked as an online marketplace for buying and selling illegal drugs using virtual currency, known as “bitcoins.” Bitcoins work like regular currency, fluctuating with the market. Now that “Silk Road” is down, FBI seized $3.6 million from the bit coin marketplace. The value of a bitcoin has plummeted from $123 to $105 and continuing in a downward spiral.
FBI arrested the Ross Ulbricht, 29, the owner and operator of the site, known as “Dread Pirate Roberts” or “DPR.” Ulbricht is charged in New York with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, soliciting a murder-for-hire and money laundering.
Silk road held roughly $2 million in Bitcoins on any given day. The FBI said between Feb. 6, 2011 and July 23, 2011, analysts tracked over a million transactions, between more than 147,000 buyers and 4,000 vendors.
Not available to the “Average Joe,” Silk Road and other websites on the Deep Web are accessible only through a special anonymized browser named Tor. Tor works as an anonymizing software that encrypts traffic by routing it through computers around the world. Because of the nature of Tor, it has allowed other online black markets to thrive.
Image via WikiCommons