Ross Ulbricht, the 29-year-old San Francisco man accused of running the world’s biggest online drug marketplace, Silk Road, has been arrested by the FBI. An FBI official told The Guardian that the bureau has also located and seized a collection of 144,000 bitcoins, the largest seizure of that cryptocurrency ever, worth close to $28.5 million at current exchange rates.
According to The Guardian, the bureau belives that the stash belonged to Ross Ulbricht, who allegedly created and managed the Silk Road, the popular anonymous drug-selling that site was taken offline by the Department of Justice in the US, after Ulbricht was arrested and charged with engaging in a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy as well as computer hacking and attempted murder-for-hire.
Ulbricht, who used the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts to operate Silk Road, has agreed to be extradited to New York City to face charges. Silk Road was a website on the “dark web” which could only be accessed via the anonymisation service Tor. Launched in February 2011, it became the hub for a substantial amount of legal and illegal dealing in goods and services, all of which had to be paid for using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
The FBI seized the site on 2 October, and arrested Ulbricht, who has been charged with money laundering, drug trafficking, facilitating computer hacking, and soliciting murder. A number of other arrests have followed in other countries.
A brief backgrounder and the details of the investigation leading to Ulbricht’s arrest can be found here.