Editor's note: Following news that Silk Road found Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison, the Wall Street Journal said prosecutors described his site as 'a criminal marketplace of unprecedented scope and sophistication.' Silk Road operated for 2 years and facilitated millions in illegal transactions, ranging from cocaine to fake driver’s licenses - Tom
Editor's note: Ross Ulbricht, 30, convicted Wednesday of running the Silk Road web site, was found guilty of 7 criminal charges, including trafficking, money-laundering and computer-hacking conspiracies. He faces a life term in prison.
Homeland Security's Peter Edge on Silk Road 2.0 arrest: 'Blake Benthall's arrest ends his status as the alleged administrator of a website that allows illicit black-market activities to evolve and expand, and provides a safe haven for illegal vices' - @FBI
Silk Road was an online black market and the first modern darknet market, best known as a platform for selling illegal drugs. As part of the dark web, it was operated as a Tor hidden service, such that online users were able to browse it anonymously and securely without potential traffic monitoring. The website was launched in February 2011; development had begun six months prior. Initially there were a limited number of new seller accounts available; new sellers had to purchase an account in an auction. Later, a fixed fee was charged for each new seller account.
In October 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the website and arrested Ross William Ulbricht under charges of being the site's pseudonymous founder "Dread Pirate Roberts". On 6 November 2013, Silk Road 2.0 came online, run by former administrators of Silk Road. It too was shut down and the alleged operator was arrested on 6 November 2014 as part of the so-called "Operation Onymous”.
Ulbricht was convicted of eight charges related to Silk Road in U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Further charges alleging murder-for-hire remain pending in Maryland.