SACRAMENTO, CA - Silk Road, an underground website to buy and sell illegal drugs, like heroin and cocaine, was shut down Wednesday by federal agents.
The site's creator Ross Ulbricht built it so the website was difficult to find and allegedly impossible to track, the FBI said. Prosecutors said Ulbricht engaged in money laundering by using Bitcoins, a virtual currency, for the transactions.
According to court documents, over the past two years, Silk Road was used by several thousand drug dealers to sell $1.2 billion in illegal drugs, which generated $80 million in commissions.
Silk Road was not the only black market bazaar for drugs. There's BMR- Black Market Reloaded. Like Silk Road, you use it anonymously. All sorts of drugs are available, with prices all listed in Bitcoins. The site even has weapons for sale. Then, there's Sheep Marketplace where you can buy things like pure cocaine or chloroform. The website Atlantis markets drugs called Sour Diesel or Happy Jack.
Even on Craiglist, you can find methamphetamine for sale. One listing reads, "I have TINA if you are looking for her."
But Silk Road was the most successful site on the "dark Internet." It had nearly 1 million registered users around the world, according to court papers. It sold everything from red joker, ecstasy pills, marijuana to coedine pills. One reason for the Silk Road's success is the untraceable Bitcoin currency that helped customers stay anonymous. The drugs arrived in a buyer's mailbox in packages nobody would think twice about.
"They had strange substances showing up in strange packages. It might be in a fruit basket or something," Recovery Happens lead counselor Justin Olson said.
A number of Recovery Happens clients have used Silk Road to buy heroin and other drugs. Olson said the site's anonymity made it even more dangerous.
"It made it easier for people to get addicted because of that veil of secrecy, because they were able to buy mass quantities without going out and actually finding the dealer on the street," Olson said.
By Suzanne Phan, email@example.com