During the late stages of the Middle Ages, ship routes were formed from Europe to Asia, making the long and dangerous Silk Road obsolete.
On October 1, 2013, the website known as The Silk Road also found its end as law enforcement used technology of its own to dismantle the site and make an arrest.
Once feared to be many people, The Dread Pirate Roberts turned out to be a 31 year old man living in the San Francisco area.
USA Today reported, at the time of his arrest, this man was in a public library, using their Wi-Fi system, logging onto the taboo site.
The suspect’s net worth was estimated to be about $44M, in Bitcoins, but he did not have a place of his own and had been crashing on friend’s couches.
Law enforcement, in the past, had made comments about how difficult it had been trying to crack the site’s infrastructure. The site utilized many layers of encrypted code, known as TOR, that also bounced information to many servers, around the world, before being sent to the right recipient. These servers, once thought to be undiscoverable, were found in countries like Latvia and Romania.
It is not known how law enforcement “cracked the code”. I believe law enforcement will claim to have the best computer hackers working for them, but I suspect law enforcement enticed at least one person, who had used this site to obtain illegal items, to aid their cause by making a plea offer.
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Either way, the end of this website, which had been in place for over two years, means there is one less “vendor” where kids can buy illegal drugs. Items for sale included prescription pills, marijuana, cocaine/crack, and heroin, to name a few. All of these items were bought and sold under strict anonymity “rules”, meaning a seller could be shipping items to a minor, while the parents knew nothing.
We applaud law enforcement in taking down this site. This site, while operational, landed many kids, including a few of our clients, in hot water, with addictions, to boot.
By Richard Mahan, Criminal Investigator