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Trial for creator of Silk Road begins in U.S.

The trial of Ross Ulbricht, known by his internet alter-ego as Dread Pirate Roberts, has begun in the United States.

Ulbricht is charged with the creation of Silk Road, a buyers market for illegal narcotics, forged documents and hacking tools. It ran on the Tor "dark web" network, allowing its users to maintain anonymity.

From 2011 to 2013, the Silk Road became one of the most popular places on the internet to buy and sell illegal drugs. The website dealt in Bitcoin, allowing transactions to be even more secure. Over $17 (£11) million Bitcoins were taken by the FBI in the raid, and U.S. officials claim that the Silk Road has processed hundreds of millions of pounds in drugs and other illicit goods and services.

In late-2013, the FBI managed to locate "Dread Pirate Roberts", by brute forcing the Silk Road website and finding the admin details. Ulbricht was connected to the Silk Road a few days later, but has denied involvement in the Silk Road.

Ulbricht has also been accused of conspiring to murder several people who knew about his involvement on Silk Road, but the FBI will not pursue this line of questioning, claiming it to be no more than threats.

However, the charges laid against Ulbricht could give him a life sentence in prison, including conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking, money laundering, computer hacking and attempt to set up a criminal empire.

The shutdown of Silk Road in 2013 lead to various revivals and alternatives cropping up on the Tor network, including Silk Road 2.0, which was recently shut down after another FBI raid.

A documentary called "Deep Web" will follow Ulbricht's life after the raid, the "false accusations" labelled against him and the reportedly illegal ways the FBI tracked down Ulbricht, including reportedly hacking the Silk Road website in order to find the admin details, a claim the FBI denies.