The government may have shut down, but that didn’t stop the feds from arresting Ross William Ulbricht, allegedly the owner of the Silk Road, an underground website that allows users to buy and sell drugs and other illicit items anonymously. The FBI also seized the equivalent of more than $3 million in Bitcoin, the cryptographic alternate currency used to make Silk Road transactions.
According to the Chronicle, Ulbrecht, who is 29 and lives in Hayes Valley, was arrested yesterday afternoon (Tue/1) at the Glen Park Library. He faces charges of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. The FBI also alleges that he tried to hire a hit man to go after a Silk Road user who was threatening to release the identities of Silk Road users.
According to the complaint, Ulbricht operated under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
The complaint said the Silk Road had generated sales revenue totaling 9.5 million Bitcoins and collected commissions totaling 600,000 Bitcoins. "These figures are roughly equivalent today to approximately $1.2 billion in sales and approximately $80 million in commissions."
Finally, this profile of the Dread Pirate Roberts published in Forbes provides some insight about the person behind the Silk Road. Apparently, he’s a rebel with a cause:
“Roberts also has a political agenda: He sees himself not just as an enabler of street-corner pushers but also as a radical libertarian revolutionary carving out an anarchic digital space beyond the reach of the taxation and regulatory powers of the state – Julian Assange with a hypodermic needle. ‘We can’t stay silent forever. We have an important message, and the time is ripe for the world to hear it,’ says Roberts. ‘What we’re doing isn’t about scoring drugs or ‘sticking it to the man.’ It’s about standing up for our rights as human beings and refusing to submit when we’ve done no wrong. Silk Road is a vehicle for that message,’ he writes to me from somewhere in the Internet’s encrypted void. ‘All else is secondary.’”