Feds Shut Down Online Drug Marketplace Silk Road

This morning, U.S. law enforcement authorities have shut down Silk Road.  Are you familiar with the site; it’s the web marketplace for illegal drugs (heroin and cocaine are you listening?), as well as such criminal activities such as murder for hire and tutorials on hacking ATM machines. (Think of Silk Road like Pirate Bay – but with drugs rather than a downloaded copy of Big Mama’s House 2.) FBI in San Francisco arrested Silk Road owner Ross William Ulbricht – also known as "Dread Pirate Roberts " – depsite the fact that the site has a huge disclaimer that reads; 

"In no way condone or promote any illegal activity and this website is only meant to be used for educational purposes as most of the items for sale on the Silkroad market are illegal."

The times have changed since Lou Reed had to go "Up To Lexington, 125" to score some smack.  All transactions conducted on Silk Road were completed via Bitcoin; rather than cash or credit cards. Authorities seized $3.6 million worth of digital currency. The website was said to generate sales of more than 9.5 million Bitcoins, roughly equivalent to $1.2 billion.

"Silk Road has emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today," sadi FBI agent Christopher Tarbell.  The Feds estimated that the site was used by "several thousand drug dealers" to sell "hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs – and we’re not talking about blackmarket Viagra either!

HOW SILK ROAD MANAGED TO STAY IN OPERATION SINCE 2011:

-The online marketplace was located on a website hidden away from ordinary internet browsers.

– To access it, buyers used Tor: a software which anonymises internet connections by bouncing data around the globe. Tor was originally sponsored by the United States Naval Research Laboratory; it’s used by political activists around the world to send messages.

-Bitcoin payments are extremely difficult to trace – and ideal for online drug-deals.

– Silk Road, payment worked through an escrow service. To minimise losses, drugs were often hidden inside birthday cards or packets of candy. Happy birthday!

-Going by the online moniker, Dread Pirate Roberts, scares away the Feds in the same way garlic scares away vampires.

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ARE DRUGS GETTING EASER OR HARDER TO BUY ONLINE? BLACKBOOK WANTS TO KNOW.

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