Federal authorities said Wednesday they had seized a website that was considered one of the most popular places on the Internet for buying drugs and other illicit goods and services.
In a criminal complaint, the FBI said they had charged Ross William Ulbricht, also known as "Dread Pirate Roberts," with operating the site, "Silk Road," since January 2011.
Authorities said the Silk Road provided an online platform for drug dealers around the world to anonymously sell narcotics -- including heroin, LSD and cocaine. The Silk Road was also a "sprawling black market bazaar" for buying and selling other illegal activities, including malicious software used for computer hacking, authorities said.
The Silk Road has long been in the crosshairs of authorities. In 2011, Sen. Charles Schumer called the site "a certifiable one-stop shop for illegal drugs that represents the most brazen attempt to peddle drugs online that we have ever seen. It's more brazen than anything else by lightyears."
Ulbricht also asked one of The Silk Road's users to execute a "murder-for-hire" scheme against another user of the site who was threatening to release the identity of thousands of visitors to the site, according to the complaint.
Authorities have charged Ulbricht with narcotics trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking. The Silk Road website has now been replaced by a banner that says the site has been seized by the FBI, DEA, IRS Criminal Division and ICE Homeland Security Investigations, authorities said in their complaint.
Ulbricht was recently the subject of a profile in Forbes, where he told a reporter that he disguises his identity and the identity of his website's visitors through Tor, an anonymizing software that encrypts traffic by routing it through computers around the world.
“The highest levels of government are hunting me," he told Forbes' Andy Greenberg. "I can’t take any chances.”