FBI arrests operator of Silk Road deep web site

The FBI has arrested the operator of the notorious Silk Road web site with millions of dollars worth of bitcoins being confiscated in the process and the site taken offline.

US authorities caught up with Ross William Ulbricht at a public library in San Francisco and a spokeswoman for the FBI stated that he was detained “without incident” by agents on Tuesday.

Ulbricht has been charged with conspiracy to traffic narcotics from the site with the FBI confiscating around $3.6 million [£2.2 million] worth of bitcoins – the biggest seizure in the history of the virtual currency.

"From in or about January 2011, up to and including September 2013, the Silk Road Hidden Website... has served as an online marketplace where illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services have been regularly bought and sold by the site's users,” read court papers filed in the Southern District of New York state, according to the BBC.

"The complainant further alleges, in part, that the Silk Road Hidden Website is designed to facilitate the illicit commerce hosted on the site by providing anonymity to its users, by operating on what is known as The Onion Router or Tor network... and by requiring all transactions to be paid in bitcoins, an electronic currency designed to be as anonymous as cash,” the papers added.

Ulbricht, who went by the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, is alleged to have generated sales of over $1.2 billion [£740 million] through the site and a second court document even alleges he “solicited a murder-for-hire” of a Canadian Silk Road user. There is no proof of this, however, and court documents state that Canadian law enforcement have no record of a homicide in White Rock, British Columbia at the time.

Silk Road was only accessible on The Onion Router [Tor], which is an anonymous web browser that allows certain sites to operate out of reach of the authorities by routing connections through many different layers of the Internet to make identification difficult.

Image Credit: FBI