Silk Road shut down and 'owner' Ross William Ulbricht arrested

Silk Road owner Ross William Ulbricht has allegedly been arrested and his online black market shut down.

AccessTimeIconOct 2, 2013 at 4:16 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 2:10 p.m. UTC

Silk Road's alleged owner Ross William Ulbricht, aka 'Dread Pirate Roberts', has been arrested with reports also claiming the online black market has been shut down by the FBI.

Currently, the site, which is operated as a Tor hidden service and is famously used by some bitcoin users to buy drugs, displays a notice stating that the site has been seized.

 The notice currently displayed on the Silk Road site.
The notice currently displayed on the Silk Road site.

According to court documents published on journalist Brian Krebs' website Krebs on Security, Ulbricht was arrested as he "intentionally and knowingly did combine, conspire, confederate and agree … to violate the narcotics laws of the United States".

Ulbricht is also being charged with possessing and distributing controlled substances and committing or conspiring to commit computer hacking offences and money laundering offences.

The court document states that, on or around 29th March, Ulbricht also "solicited a Silk Road user to execute a murder-for-hire of another Silk Road user, who was threatening to release the identities of thousands of users of the site".

There have been reports that, in the arrest of Ulbricht, 26,000 bitcoins were seized, which equated to around $3.26m at the close of yesterday, but $2.47m at the time of writing.

The price of bitcoin has dropped significantly since news broke of Ulbricht's arrest and the closure of Silk Road as people 'panic sell' their digital currency stashes.

— Shimon Prokupecz (@shimon4ny) October 2, 2013

Ulbricht has protected his identity through encryption and anonymity tools, but an FBI spokesperson, who asked not to be named, told Forbes they were able to catch the website owner after he made a "simple mistake".

“This is supposed to be some invisible black market bazaar. We made it visible. When you interviewed [Ulbricht], he said he would never be arrested. But you can't resist the FBI. We will find you," they said.

This article will be updated as new information surfaces.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.