The first darknet market powered by Bitcoin and Ross Ulbricht’s libertarian dream. Follow BTCMEX to the deep web and discover a story of Silk Road.
Throwback Thursday by BTCMEX
About 10 years ago the world’s biggest dark web market place called Silk Road reshaped the world of crime - drug trafficking, illegal weapon sales, and crowdfunded assassinations became a click away. The widespread adoption of Bitcoin and invisibility of the dark web allowed a libertarian Ross Ulbricht, who by that time has already failed in day trading and setting up a gaming company, suddenly became the dark web monopolist. The founder of Silk Road is known online as Dread Pirate Roberts.
The marketplace operated within the dark web - a network that requires specific access and authorization - creating a perfect opportunity for executing illegal activity without being tracked down. The platform was protected by the Tor free software. It earned around 1.2 billion US dollars in revenue and 80 million in commissions by the time it was shut down. It hosted over 145,000 buyers and over 3,500 vendors with a total of over 1 million transactions.
In early 2011 the article about Silk Road by Adrian Chen went viral attracted the attention of the FBI. The Marco Polo investigation started. Authorities were able to identify the identity of the hosting company that was used by the Silk Road and get access to all the private messages. The team of investigators traced back the server to Reykjavik, Iceland.
What’s written on the Internet, stays on the Internet. At one point in 2013, Ulbricht answered several questions about Tor in the post that featured his real name email. Within days the mastermind was arrested, accused in was convicted of money laundering, computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic fraudulent identity documents, and conspiracy to traffic narcotics by means of the Internet. In May 2015, he was sentenced to a double life sentence plus forty years without the possibility of parole. He is currently incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson. As BTCMEX reported earlier, on March 27, 2020, Ulbricht spent the seventh birthday behind the bars.
Ulbricht’s defenders tried to convince the judges that the person behind Dread Pirate Roberts was Mark Karpeles - the former CEO of infamous Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. It was the first-ever money laundering investigation case that include digital currency.
In November 2013, Silk Road 2.0 launched, although it was taken down pretty fast. By 2015, multiple websites operating in the web depths started offering the same ease of illegal purchases.
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Please, note, that the article is a part of BTCMEX Blog, the views and opinions expressed here are the contributing author’s only, and do not necessarily represent the views of the company.
Julia Bulakh for BTCMEX