October 2, 2013

Defendant Charged With Drug Trafficking, Hacking, Money Laundering

Prosecutors in New York today said that federal agencies have taken over the Silk Road, a sprawling underground Web site that has earned infamy as the “eBay of drugs.” On Tuesday, federal agents in San Francisco arrested the Silk Road’s alleged mastermind. Prosecutors say 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, a.k.a “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR), will be charged with a range of criminal violations, including conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, and money laundering.

A screen shot of the Silk Road Web site, taken Oct. 23, 2013.

A screen shot of the Silk Road Web site, taken Oct. 2, 2013.

The Silk Road is an online black market that as late as last month was hosting nearly 13,000 sales listings for controlled substances, including marijuana, LSD, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy. Much like eBay sellers, merchants on the Silk Road are evaluated by previous buyers, who are encouraged to leave feedback about the quality of the seller’s goods and services.

The Silk Road is not available via the regular Internet. Rather, it is only reachable via the Tor network, an anonymity network that bounces its users communications across a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world.

That is, it was until this week, when FBI agents arrested its alleged proprietor and seized the Web servers running the site. The feds also replaced the Silk Road’s home page with a message saying that the site had been seized by the FBI, Homeland Security Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to a complaint unsealed this week, Ulbricht alone controlled the massive profits generated from the operation of the business. The government alleges that Ulbricht also controlled and oversaw all aspects of the Silk Road, including: the maintenance of the computer infrastructure and programming code underlying the Silk Road Web site; the determination of vendor and customer policies; decisions about what could be sold on the site; and managing a small staff of online administrators who assisted with the day-to-day operations.

The Silk Road didn’t just sell drugs. For example, the complaint identifies 801 for-sale listings under “digital goods,” which included banking Trojans, pirated content, and hacked accounts at Netflix and Amazon. The “forgeries” section of the Silk Road featured 169 ads from vendors of fake driver’s licenses, passports, Social Security cards, utility bills, credit card statements, car insurance records, and other forms of identity documents.

An ad for heroin on the Silk Road. Notice this seller has 97 feedback points.

An ad for heroin on the Silk Road. Notice this seller has 97 feedback points.

Another popular section of the Silk Road included 159 listings for generic “Services,” mostly those listed by computer hackers offering such services as hijacking Twitter and Facebook accounts of the customer’s choosing. Other classified ads promised the sale of anonymous bank accounts, counterfeit bills, firearms and ammunition, and even hitmen for hire.

FBI investigators said that on or about March 29, 2013, Ulbricht contacted a Silk Road seller “Redandwhite” to see about hiring him to to take out another Silk Road user — someone going by the nickname “FriendlyChemist” — who was threatening to release the identities of thousands of users of the site.

From the government’s complaint: “Asked what sort of problem FriendlyChemist was causing him, DPR responded in a message dated March 30, 2013, ‘[H]e is threatening to expose the identities of thousands of my clients that he was able to acquire….[T]his kind of behavior is unforgivable to me. Especially here on Silk Road, anonymity is sacrosanct.'” As to the murder-for-hire job he was soliciting, DPR commented that “[i]t doesn’t have to be clean.”

Later that same day, redandwhite sent DPR a message quoting him a price of $150,000 to $300,000, “depending on how you want it done, ‘clean’ or ‘non-clean’.

On March 31, DPR began haggling over the price, responding: “Don’t want to be a pain here, but the price seems high. Not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k. Are the prices you quoted the best you can do? I would like this done asap as he is talking about releasing the info on Monday.”

DPR, allegedly using the nickname "altoid" seeks to hire a tech expert for the Silk Road via bitcointalk.org

DPR, allegedly using the nickname “altoid” seeks to hire a tech expert for the Silk Road via bitcointalk.org

According to investigators, the two ultimately settle on a price of $150,000, and that Ulbricht paid for the transaction using Bitcoins — an anonymous virtual currency — sending the would-be hit man 1,670 bitcoins for the arranged hit. Bitcoin currency rates fluctuate quite a bit from day to day, but historic sites that track Bitcoin rates show that one bitcoin around that date in late March 2013 was worth about USD $90, meaning investigators believe Ulbricht paid approximately $150,300 for the hit.

The government’s complaint states that the hit wasn’t carried out, but it also doesn’t seem that FriendlyChemist was the source of investigators’ break in this case. That would come on July 23, 2013, when investigators gained access to a Silk Road server and made a complete copy of the data on the machine.

Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) and at University of California San Diego, said the information contained on the server seized by investigators indicates that Ulbricht/Dread Pirate Roberts routinely failed to heed his own advice to fellow Silk Road users: Prominent on the Silk Road site were links to tutorials DPR penned which laid out the technologies and techniques that users should adopt if they want to keep off the radar of federal investigators.

“This shows me that the head of the Silk Road wasn’t using [encryption] for all his communications, because [the government] wouldn’t have all of this information otherwise, unless of course he stored his encryption key on the server that was seized,” Weaver said. “Either [the government] got his encryption key off of this server or another server that they were able to access, or he wasn’t using encryption at all.”

The complaint also suggests that in June 2013, Ulbricht accessed a server used to control the Silk Road site from an Internet cafe that was 500 feet from the hotel he was staying at in San Francisco.

“In other words, he wasn’t even using Tor to administer the Silk Road,” Weaver said. “Given that, it’s amazing that he was able to keep this site running for three years.”

Other rookie mistakes also contributed to DPR’s identification as Ross William Ulbricht. In 2011, a person using the nickname “Altoid” posted a comment to the Bitcoin Talk forum trying to get users there to visit the Silk Road. Later in the year, Altoid posted again on the Bitcoin Talk forum, this time seeking an “IT pro” in the Bitcoin community to help with Silk Road administration. In that comment, he posted his Gmail address, the contents of which were later subpoenaed by federal investigators.

Finally, DPR tripped himself up when he ordered some fake IDs from an international Silk Road vendor and had them sent to his residence. The fraudulent IDs were intercepted at the border by customs agents working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which paid a visit to the address to which the documents were to be delivered. The agents noted that while Ulbricht refused to answer any questions about the alleged purchase, one of the identity documents was a California driver’s license bearing Ulbricht’s photo and true date of birth, but with a different name.

Ulbricht's LinkedIn profile, as described by the government's complaint.

Ulbricht’s LinkedIn profile, as described by the government’s complaint.

A number of folks on Twitter, Reddit and other communities are linking to several identities on social media platforms that match up with timelines in the government’s complaint, including this profile on LinkedIn, and this page at Google Plus. According to page 24 of the government’s complaint, Ulbricht graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelors degree in Physics in 2006. From 2006 to 2010, he attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Materials Science and Engineering.

The government’s investigation into the Dread Pirate Roberts and Silk Road officially began back in November 2011, when law enforcement agents began making a series of more than 100 individual undercover purchases of controlled substances from Silk Road vendors. Now, many of those vendors — and their customers — have to be wondering how long it may be before investigators come knocking on their doors.

“If I were a seller on the Silk Road, I’d be terrified right now,” Weaver said. “Any buyer that didn’t use encryption now has their Silk Road messages seized. The FBI may have the sellers’ shipping addresses for their customers, and for the sellers, the FBI knows the Bitcoin payout addresses, so then it’s a matter of tracing the Bitcoin wallets from there.”

Weaver pointed to research by Sara Meiklejohn, a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego who’s been analyzing the role of bitcoin and anonymity on the Silk Road. Meiklejohn’s study, A Fistful of Bitcoins: Characterizing Payments Among Men with No Names —  to be released in October 2013 at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference in Barcelona, Spain — lays out different methods that could be used to tie Bitcoin wallets to specific individuals.

According to a press release sent out by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ulbricht will be presented in San Francisco today. He is charged with conspiracy to traffic in narcotics, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering.

The ICSI’s Weaver said that if convicted on the drug charges alone, Ulbricht is facing life in prison.

“The drug trafficking counts include the weights of the drugs, which makes me think that the government wants to throw the book at this guy,” Weaver said, noting that those weights carry mandatory sentences. “The drug charges alone have a 30 year mandatory minimum.”

The government notes in its complaint that most of the drug pushers on the Silk Road sold packets of drugs for individual use (for an example of this, check out the 13 packets of heroin that a cyber fraudster ordered off of the Silk Road in July and had sent to my home in a botched attempt to frame this reporter). But Weaver said the government can apparently aggregate many different individual drug charges because he acted in a role to help facilitate those sales. For example, getting busted for possessing or selling one kilogram of heroin carries a sentence of 10 years to life.

“That’s why I think those weight numbers are in the complaint against him,” Weaver said. “They’re hoping these will trigger mandatory minimum sentences.”

The government also announced today that pursuant to this action, it has seized approximately 26,000 Bitcoins worth roughly $3.6 million, in what it’s calling the largest ever seizure of Bitcoins.

A copy of the complaint is available here (PDF). Apologies for not hosting it on my site, but when I did that earlier, the mad rush from Reddit readers melted my site.

Update, 3:02 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Ulbricht was charged with attempted murder. While the government’s complaint lays out that alleged conspiracy, it does not state that he was charged with attempted murder….yet.

Update, 5:47 p.m. ET: As Reuters reports, the price of Bitcoin digital currency dropped today, falling to $129 per bitcoin from $140 a day before.

Update, 11:52 p.m. ET: The law blog Popehat has got a great analysis of the charges against Ulbricht, and has even dug up a separate complaint (PDF) against Ulbricht released Oct. 2 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland that levies many of the same charges, including attempted murder. According to this indictment, Ulbricht allegedly ordered what appears to be a separate hit. It looks like this is the other hit job Ulbricht allegedly copped to in the transcript quoted in the main story above: Investigators produced a chat log showing Ulbricht saying a previous hit he ordered only cost $80,000, and in this Maryland complaint says Ulbricht made two payments of $40,000 for this hit job. In this case, the “hit man” Ulbricht allegedly hired was an undercover federal agent.

138 thoughts on “Feds Take Down Online Fraud Bazaar ‘Silk Road’, Arrest Alleged Mastermind

  1. MartyM

    I wonder how you “seize” a Bitcoin. And where do you store it to maintain chain of custody so that it is admissible as evidence?

    1. Sam

      Basically like you would any other data stored on a hard drive. Bitcoins are stored in a wallet on a hard disk, so chances are they seized the hard drives containing the wallet(s).

      1. ComplexMeme

        Though that will only keep control of the coins if the owner of the wallet doesn’t have their private key backed up elsewhere. To properly seize Bitcoins, you’d have to transfer the coins to an address you control.

    2. Jess

      You cannot seize a bitcoin in the normal sense of paper money. bitcoins have a ‘address’ or ‘account number’ where they are credited to and you can only spend them if you have the special password (a string of characters and numbers thats kinda long). The only way to seize them is to get the address/account number(which is public) and the password(which isnt). So how did they get the pass? one of two ways. The pass was in the server itself so the server could have access to the bitcoins. Or he willingly gave up the ‘password’. More then likely it was just the “hot” wallet. the one with active money in it. he likely has another wallet where he stores his money to keep it safe from hacking. He could have even given the wallet to the police/whoever as part of a deal or something(and a way to keep his real wallet hidden).

      but as mentioned, once they get the pass they would have to move the bitcoins to a police/fbi owned wallet to secure them. otherwise the actual owner could spend them/move them.

      Hope this clarified things a bit.

  2. Alexander

    Jesus Christ.

    Awesome Story Brian.
    As always.

    The funny thing is .
    I talked with my Head of IT today and told him “its really quiet on the Internet no Busts no Raids Nothing”

  3. altoid luvr

    “….13 packets of heroin that a cyber fraudster ordered off of the Silk Road […] in a botched attempt to frame this reporter…”
    Yes, of COURSE that’s what happened, lol.
    :wink wink nudge nudge say no more know what I mean:

    Wasn’t that one of DPR pieces of advice? “Tell LE, if they come knocking, that you were set up.”

    Nevertheless, this is the BEST de facto article on this amazing story. Kudos and thank you!

    1. Combative_Douche

      Research this stuff before you assert bullshit. He documented every step of getting set up, before it ever happened. There are even forum postings where the people who did discuss what they’re going to do and how.

      1. P. Hart

        That’s just how I’m going to protect myself. A bunch of postings on ways to set me up…and then ideas to send me pot in the mail…. I have people who want me living in the states…and this is how they tried to get me back…nudge nudge wink wink

      2. Just Curious

        I still get deja-vu from Brian’s story because https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/dE7YbQn6jeo?iv_load_policy=3&autoplay=1&wmode=opaque was in the news quite a bit (and Balko, who wrote the fantastic ‘Rise of the Warrior Cop’ and has been a big proponent against the sorts of raids that Brian came up against has been talking about cases like this quite a bit). This particular YouTube, though, basically was like both of Brian’s experiences combined — and predates them considerably. :/

  4. Richard Steven Hack

    He won’t do life.


    Because he’s going to rat out every one of his customers and otherwise “cooperate”.

    That’s what virtually every drug dealer does. It’s why the DoJ has a 98% conviction rate in drug cases. They threaten some guy with 50 years, then tell him he’ll only do five if he rats out everyone else. They ALWAYS take that deal. The one guy on the crew that doesn’t take the deal ends up doing ten times the time everyone else does. Even the heads of the ring can walk as long as they cooperate.

    If the idiots would just SHUT UP and have a good lawyer, in many cases they would walk or do a small amount of time. But they always turn rat. Always.

    What I find amazing is that it took the Feds THREE YEARS to grab a guy hosting a site doing drug deals. I mean, really? THREE YEARS?

    They don’t call the FBI the Fumbling Bunch of Idiots for nothing…

    1. altoid luvr

      Richard, perhaps you haven’t read how the SR works, but it’s not really a ROAD or even a STREET. It’s VIRTUAL. And now the FBI has just as much info as Ross, they don’t need him to “rat out” anybody, lol.

    2. Nicholas Weaver

      IANAL, but I’d bet otherwise.

      The murder for hire (not yet) charge that will probably be added eventually is probably rubble bouncing, as each one of those drug charges is 10 years mandatory minimum each for the meth, cocaine, and heroin alone, and there is nothing that Mr Ulbricht can really do for cooperation.

      Since all the “cooperation” Mr Ulbricht can give is a big, fat, nothing, since everything is online with online handles, and the FBI has a copy of the database.

      I’d personally expect many more high-profile arrests of sellers and buyers based on this data, done as much as a way of scaring others off future “mee-too” markets like Black Market Reloaded which would otherwise seek to fill the gap left by the shuttering of Silk Road.

    3. tom jones

      I disagree, Richard. You see, they also always want to nail the biggest fish, and DPR is a huge one they can make an example of. He pushed his luck while thumbing his nose at the authorities for too long, apparently. He may not get life, but he is going to be a very old man if and when he is released from prison. They already seem to have a lot of info pertaining to real sellers, so I doubt they would be interested in cutting a sizable deal with the head honcho of bitcoin mayhem just to nab a few more small-time dealers. DPR is THE guy they wanted to get, and the one they want in headlines to taint if not destroy botcoin.

    4. DF

      That only works if you aren’t the best target for prosecution. Why would the FBI go after hundreds or thousands of little fish and let the big one go away? He is the big fish, the sellers and customers are the ones the FBI is going to turn and if they were smart they would get a lawyer right now to negotiate immunity for them in exchange for their testimony.

      On an unrelated note… As far as him not using encryption, there is a possibility that he did but that the government had the ability to decrypt it without needing his keys.

      1. Just Curious

        Sabu was Christopher Tarbell’s big fish in the Anonymous case (Tarbell’s the same fed as in this case)… so I suppose it would depend on what his office wants. There’s a big difference between the two cases, unless DPR had alternate identities online.

        Frankly DPR’s biggest use was his database and whatever they may have managed to MITM into SR’s upstream (I suspect a few people got a special present that other people didn’t get between the site being imaged and looked at and the arrest/takedown of SR taking place). He had a specific niche that isn’t likely to be insertable in many other places, especially without a reputation from elsewhere. If he gets any time it’ll be from pleading nicely and offering the DEA some insight into how things are done online (he probably knows little to nothing about how it’s done offline, so he probably doesn’t have much to offer in the way of compare/contrast) — and a lot of that use was probably cut down quite a bit by the imaging of the server. If there are chat logs on his personal machine — then even less use to them.

        Long and short of it is, they wanted SR down and DPR busted, and it’ll probably be pursued sort of similarly to how a KP case gets pursued — aim high, get something mid-range for the feds but the big prize is deterrence, fear, and getting rid of the biggest player (both site-wise and person-wise — especially given the fact that DPR was an adroit speaker with a strong voice and intelligent philosophy (read: charisma); in fed parlance, this converts to ‘has leadership qualities’; when it comes to underground markets those with charisma are the biggest targets.

  5. QHoster

    Really amazing story Brian. Sad they cannot send you drugs for free anymore 🙂 Keep the great job.

  6. Richard

    Part of me is amazed it took them this long to shut it down… but another part of me is surprised they did.

    Just like many of the other crooks Brian has outed, they often make critical mistakes in their “tradecraft”… which makes me wonder about those that are much better at it.

    1. Nic

      They have been sitting on it for a long time. .. it was a great source of intel for agencies around the world.

      1. anymouse

        “One meeleeon….wait….one beeleeon bitcoins!”

        Channel your inner Carl Sagan and demand “billions and billions.”

  7. QHoster

    And the Bitcoin price dropped down with 10% 🙂 Seems the shady economy has it concussions too.

    1. Just Curious

      Actually, I’ve been thinking about this (for about 30 seconds) and if they do indeed seize the bitcoins and refuse to treat it as actual liquidatable assets, then by all means bitcoins will *increase* in value very soon, due to the fact that (a) there is a set limit to the number of bitcoins which can be generated, and (b) a rather large set of those bitcoins has just been taken out of the pool.

      Which is to say, each remaining bitcoin will actually take on more worth, once this ‘scare’ dies down. Your hundredths or tenths of a bitcoin will simply go further. Which may not have mattered much a few years ago before there were many places other than SilkRoad to use them (and a considerable number of BTC did get used through SilkRoad) but should in fact matter in current times.

      BTW my money is on this tying in in some way to the LR data seizures back in May.

      1. Just Curious

        (when I say that about LR I don’t mean in the ‘eureka’ sense, but I am betting they were able to make a lot of interesting connections once they had a number of databases to compare against in some way to the data they seized from the SR imaged server)

  8. Robert

    Very interesting story…great article! I saw this because I think bitcoin is really cool. I think a 10% drop is strong evidence that the currency is dominantly used for legitimate uses.

    Heck, I wonder how much USD is seized from drug lords every year? Probably 20% of the USD in circulation 🙂 Only the gov’t institutions know that… and they’re obviously keeping quiet…

    1. tom jones

      s, Robert, yes! A drop of ONLY 10% (a bit more now, but not a catastrophe) means there is still a lot of confidence in bitcoin, and a lot of legitimate use, which is true. However, I fully expect it to drop more, at least to 80 USD, within the next week or so as the word gets around to those who haven’t caught the recent news yet. But bitcoin is strong and will not die that easily.

      If anything, the seizure of 26,ooo BTC should eventually raise the value of remaining coins (of which there is a finite number), because the seized coins are gone, out of circulation, and not coming back. That may not happen, there were definitely people interested in BTC only because of SR, but they were probably the minority.

  9. Keith

    Very interesting article. I’m curious about the security practices of Ulbricht. We read this fairly often where someone that should know better uses unsecure methods.

    Since he wrote tutorials on how to avoid the attention of the law, I imagine that when he decided to start the service he must have been very paranoid. It’s difficult to think that he was that sloppy all the time.

    Somewhere along the way he must have started getting lazy or started thinking he was smarter than everyone or something else entirely. I doubt that it was a conscious decision.

    If you get a chance ask him what he was thinking.

  10. Kenny

    The Bitcoin price drop is a panic sell. If I heard of the Silk Road seizure sooner, I would have sold my Bitcoins with the intent of buying back in a day or two later at the lower price.

    I don’t see any supply/demand forces that will shift the Bitcoin exchange rate one way or the other. Silk Road was a revolving door–buyers traded cash for Bitcoins, then sellers traded those Bitcoins for cash. Roughly equal buy/sell pressure there, so the absence of it shouldn’t affect much in the long term.

    Re: Silk Road being seized, wow. The symbolism of replacing the .onion site with their banner reading “This HIDDEN site has been seized” is chilling.

    1. Just Curious

      This is probably a stupid question, but I wonder if the direct address is reachable, and if so if there is a different seizure notice on it?

  11. s

    Well written and about time they got him. That site was giving Bitcoin a bad reputation and would really like to believe the press can now focus on the positive uses of the bitcoin experiment. E.g. simplicity for charity donations/transfering value, banks and 3rd parties not required to store value, no quantitative easing options to erode any savings, the first instantly transferable global commodity.

  12. omg

    gmail, linkedin, google+, !tor admin site from inet cafe? wtf and it rly??? took them so long to fetch him? he maybe should have hired a killer for him self (highest prio protecting the users…haha wake up)

    pf hahaha. after collecting all of our data they finaly realized that ONLY storing the sh… DOES NOT rly help.

    I was sure this bust was made possible due to the freedom hosting bust (and the interessting IM services)….

  13. Neej

    Any word on whether this bust was the result of a weakness in Tor itself or was it because this silly man administered his server via the open web as the article appears to assert?

  14. Don Livingston

    Bravo on excellent reporting. Your fact checking, expertise and lack of speculation is putting the mainstream press to shame. Keep up the good work!

    I agree with others that silk road was tarnishing the name of bitcoin and having it shut down is a good thing. There are other sites like Sheep Marketplace and Black Market Reloaded that will likely pick up where silk road left off but I highly doubt they’ll ever be able to get as big as silk road now that there is real fear out there. I really hope BTC can be separated from illicit drugs in the mind of the public. It’s a fascinating experiment and I hope it does well!

  15. Peter

    Pretty much the same way lulzsec were caught out in the end. The leader was stupid and didn’t use anonymizing techniques all the time.

    All it takes is 1 login from an unsecured connection.

  16. Sid

    Just wanted to make a correction. He attended Pennsylvania State University, not University of Pennsylvania as stated in the article. These are two different institutions.

    1. BrianKrebs Post author

      Sid, that information comes straight from the government’s complaint. But I’ll grant you that it does say Pennsylvania State University on his LinkedIn page. I’m inclined to believe his own LinkedIn page.

      1. capuchinmonkey

        Yeah, I can’t see why someone who earned a degree from the University of Pennsylvania (an Ivy League school) would want to lie and say his degree is from Penn State, even if the school hadn’t had its reputation trashed by the Sandusky travesty.

        What’s more, Penn’s engineering school is named the School of Engineering and Applied Science, not the School of Materials Science and Engineering as you wrote. http://www.upenn.edu/programs/academics-schools.php

        By the way, you call the scheme to frame you for drugs botched, but I think the accurate word for it is “foiled.”

  17. Vietnam veteran without any legs

    Ye right ,Why ? Bloody FBI .where im going to buy my Alprazolam pills now ? Where .tell me !! I eat my doctors cat for breakfast and he got a bit upset about it so i can`t get any more prescriptions from him .i need help please send me money by Wester union , im down to my last 4 pills , after that i will go mad .I may even roll up to Brians house to see if his got any Alprazolam left , cos im in real pain right now .my legs not growing back as fast as i was hoping to .

    1. IA Eng

      I am sure they can adjust the words on the pills and extend the name of PROZAC to what you are currently eating. In any event, I think if they drugs have side effects or if your not on them, the end result would be the same. I say save youe money, move to the extreme south on a swamp hut and go eat alligators instead. That will curb the appetite between meals. Drink the ‘shine down there, if that doesn’t cure ya………

  18. Methylated Amfatamines

    But if i don’t have silkroad to buy meth for helping me stay up all night cooking meth, i cant sell my meth for meth money, so how can i even meth?

  19. The Utah Data Center/N.S.A./ Area 51/Room 641A/XKeyscore/PRISM/Mainway/Marina

    I wonder if N.S.A. surveillance had anything to do with this since many of illegal transactions went to other foreign countries

    Silk Road closed: Founder of Dark Web’s drug marketplace arrested

    The perfectly normal online life of Dread Pirate Roberts

    How the FBI tracked down Dread Pirate Roberts

  20. potato

    Calling silk road vendors “pushers” just seems wrong to me. Pushers are the guys in alleys trying to sell you heroin when you just want some weed. Anyone on a hidden service went out of their way to get there, nothing is being pushed on to them.

    If anything, the feds are the pushers, shoving surveillance and harmful drug laws down our throats.

    1. IA Eng

      Hehehehehe. Some one sounds sour as if their only seemingly friendly way to get some product has dried up. It doesn’t matter what “they” are called, its illegal and most will stand in front of a judge. Its a law enforcement / political way to thwart any of these bozo’s who may have assisted this jackass in setting up this website.

      Nothing says you HAVE to accept the ways of the USA. Simply pack up and go to another country. Again, it may boil down to choice. Its your choice whether you want to do something wrong and look over your shoulder all the time, or just stay clean and find another avenue for excitement.

      1. AlcoholIsNotADrug

        His comment is correct, take your ignorant anti-drug crap elsewhere.

        1. IA Eng

          Ahhhhh one thing about America is, I get to voice my opinion and its accepted as such. No one says you have to like the way things are in the USA.

          Ignorant has nothing to do with my original comment. Its all about options – make your choice and see what comes of it. Its easy to hide behind an alias and point fingers.

          Its kind of obvious to me you already have a path down the dark road. There is no reasoning with the “ignornant” , stubborn or those who can see but are blind.

          1. General Alexander TolikiF

            Ye , America is like a 21 cetn. Nazi “Pushers around ” lets say . The only problem is you cant f**k with mother Russia or else .

            1. IA Eng

              Eh? Then why are hackers being brought to justice from many European countries? They stand in front of the judge now more than ever. It is their own fault. they do not wish to cover their tracks. They seem too comfortable in old ways, and then there is a knock on door and they are arrested.

              NSA may have caused the door to be closed for a short period of time, but I would say that the NSA probably helped or continues to help alot of countries by providing limited information. How much they will provide in the future is unknown.

              Very long story.

          2. AlcoholIsNotADrug

            I’m not “hiding” behind an alias, I do not feel the need to use my real name everywhere i go, it is not because I’m scared some fat american will fly over here and beat me up because I called them ignorant.

            I will give you 10/10 for the effort though. You went to the trouble of trying to make your posts seem well thought out and justifiable, when really all you wanted to saw was: “All drug users are horrible people, Only illegal drugs are bad, America is the best country on earth, Everyone who uses illegal drugs is a drug addict.”

  21. P. Hart

    Can’t help but think this is just a reshuffling of the top. The amount of money he was making…there will be others to fill it…Others, with more powerful friends.

  22. Benny

    Now all those people that got marijuana and things like that have to go out on the street and deal with dangerous drug dealers that also deal coke, heroin and meth. Awesome! Great job US. Arnt you shut down, or is that just the things people don’t care about?

    1. Larry

      Benny Benny Benny you must of missed the parts of SR where you could buy coke, heroin and meth and guns and hacking and ID theft and murder for hire.
      Ross is a dirty lowlife scumbag and I hope he rots in jail.
      Pirate my ass.

      1. Larry

        His ego got the better of him and that ultimately lead to his sloppiness and down fall that and his greed.
        He certainly was no pirate.
        I particularly loved the hypocrisy of him spewing BS about ethics while discussing having his former associate wacked.

  23. Not an FBi agent

    i wonder if FBI is affected by US gov. shutdown . They should be .

    1. The Utah Data Center/N.S.A./ Area 51/Room 641A/XKeyscore/PRISM/Mainway/Marina/Meta Data

      Instead of Silk Road the federal government should have shut down the N.S.A. for crimes against the American people for blatant violation of the fourth amendment.

      I would think that a person’s forth amendment is way more important then someone getting high from purchases made on Silk Road

      In the end people on Tor are just going to move to Black Market Reloaded so the feds have not solved the problem of illegal drugs on the Dark Web.

      The ” War on Drugs” is a complete failure

      Thanks again B.K. for another great article.

  24. DefendOurFree

    “Finally, DPR tripped himself up when he ordered some fake IDs from an international Silk Road vendor and had them sent to his residence. The fraudulent IDs were intercepted at the border by customs agents working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which paid a visit to the address to which the documents were to be delivered.”

    Were the Identify Theft Service sites being used to make fake IDs?

    Ref: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/09/data-broker-giants-hacked-by-id-theft-service/

    1. tuns1999

      “This shows me that the head of the Silk Road wasn’t using [encryption] for all his communications, because [the government] wouldn’t have all of this information otherwise,”
      Nicholas is wrong about this, which is kind of embarrassing for a security expert. There is a way the government to have these communications even though encryption was used and the encryption wasn’t broken. That is if it was government agents were at the other end of the conversation. Which I think is almost certainly the case, they seem to pretty certain that the ordered ‘hit’ never happened. They know because it was law enforcement the whole time and no hit ever happened.
      Also, this article fails to mention that it was Canadian authorities that broke this open, NOT the FBI. It looks like FriendlyChemist got pinched by the RCMP and user redandwhite is a agent working for the RCMP. Also it was the Canadian agents in customs that found the fake IDs.

    2. Just Curious

      I was actually wondering when I first read that if the fake ID fed sting operation that occurred during the CarderMarket sting from last year may have also had anything to do with this. Then there is also the guy ‘wave’ who was arrested in that series of busts, who was a well-known SR vendor, and who apparently was willing to talk. Granted, I am not a criminal and not in these circles, but it’s a lot easier to create multiple pathways to come to a same conclusion once you know the conclusion you’re expecting (the DEA does this often, as recent exposures have shown). Best to keep the ‘evidence trail’ as ‘clean looking as possible’ by arranging the evidence in such a way as to make it least complicated for the jury to understand?

Comments are closed.