By Thursday the FBI had shut down Silk Road. Anyone who attempted to access the site saw a large digital poster saying it had been seized by authorities. Police also took possession of a digital wallet allegedly belonging to Ulbricht containing thousands of Bitcoins, the anonymous, crypto-currency used throughout the Silk Road market. To date it is reportedly worth $34.5m, and it’s thought that more of the Dread Pirate’s takings are still at large online. They claimed Ulbricht was making $20,000 a day on sales commissions, amassing a total of $80m, much of which was reportedly going back into maintaining Silk Road operations.
The whole Silk Road enterprise had reportedly seen $1.2bn in sales in its existence, and nearly one million anonymous customers, making it perhaps the world’s biggest online marketplace for drugs.
Chillingly, the FBI indictments also claimed Ulbricht had ordered two hits against people whom he thought might expose his clients, one against an “employee” of Silk Road in January 2013 and then against someone, who was in fact an undercover agent, threatening to leak names of his clientele. In the first hit, police say Ulbricht offered $40,000 for the job, and asked for “proof of death” in the form of a video. Police staged photos of the death, and when Ulbricht saw them stated that he was “a little disturbed, but I’m OK”. “I’m new to this kind of thing, is all,” he added. “I don’t think I’ve done the wrong thing.”
After the arrest, photos of Ulbricht’s smiling face were soon scraped from his profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, and posted on hundreds of websites, blogs and Twitter. On Thursday morning, another young San Francisco resident picked up a copy of the Examiner newspaper and was startled to see Ulbricht on the front page. He took a photo with his phone and texted it to his housemate. “Funny,” he said. “Looks kinda like our sub-letter.”
“Not looks like,” his friend replied. “Is.”