FBI shut down Silk Road, a once-thriving online marketplace where you could buy drugs online and other illicit items for sale and shipment. A 29-year-old San Francisco man named Ross Ulbricht is accused of heading up operations for the online black market under the alias Dread Pirate Roberts.
Buy Drugs Online
Silk Road reportedly sold more than $1 billion in illegal goods and accumulated a user-base of nearly one million buyers and sellers during the course of its two-and-a-half year operation. Silk Road worked much like any digital marketplace, providing an online shopping center where users could browse for goods. However, at Silk Road goods were almost exclusively illegal, and 70% of its listed merchandise were drugs.
It used bitcoins (a digital currency) for transaction payments, allowing buyers to eliminate the “paper trails” left by more conventional payment methods. The underground market also kept bitcoin payments in escrow until delivery. This helped to guard against non-delivery of “goods,” as well as the volatility of the still-new digital currency. Once transactions were complete, sellers could opt to take their escrowed earnings in U.S. dollars if they chose.
In June 2011, Gawker ran an article on the operation, essentially glorifying it as an “Amazon.com” for drug users. The article championed the site for its ability to give drug users a chance to stay out of the violent, real life marketplace of shady alleys and seedy drug dealers. But in reality, Silk Road was no different than any other drug-fueled market: full of addiction, greed, and violence.
Under his pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, Ulbricht allegedly put out a hit on a former Silk Road “employee” that was nabbed by police. According to court documents, Ulbricht’s motivation for killing the man was both an effort to keep the operation under wraps and to retrieve stolen bitcoins. In an indictment, later published by the Baltimore Sun, Ulbricht allegedly arranged for the torture and death of the former employee in exchange for $80,000: $40,000 as a deposit and $40,000 when the job was done. The only problem for Dread Pirate Roberts was that his would-be hired assassin was actually an undercover agent. Worse still, Ulbricht, falsely confident in his apparent murder-for-hire skills, allegedly arranged at least five more such killings before he was taken into custody. (According to authorities, despite his best efforts, none of the murders were actually fulfilled.)
In early October 2013, Ulbricht was arrested at a San Francisco library and the notorious Silk Road was shuttered. Ulbricht was charged with money laundering, hacking, narcotics trafficking and attempting to kill six people. Though there have been at least two attempts to resurrect the marketplace, neither was successful.
When Addicts Buy Drugs Online
Sadly, addiction is what fuels drug enterprise. Drug users create a demand, and drug traffickers bring it to market. As demonstrated by the Silk Road saga, using drugs, whether from a purchase in a city alley or from an elaborate online operation, is a dangerous step down a slippery slope. Addictions become so powerful that the will to stay safe – safe from depraved individuals, safe from prosecution, safe from bodily harm – is almost entirely disregarded in favor of scoring the next high.
This harrowing tale might sound like the dramatic trailer to a Hollywood thriller, but there is no poetic happy ending to a story of addiction. If you are struggling, or know someone who is, The Watershed is here to help. Call our hotline any time, day or night: 1-800-861-1768.
Related Silk Road ArticlesTags: online drugs, silk road