Crime & Justice
4:20 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Alleged Mastermind of Deep Web's Hidden Drug Marketplace Has Austin Ties

The man behind Silk Road – a site on the hidden “deep web” where users can buy drugs – has been arrested. And he appears to have Austin ties.

The FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht this morning, accusing him of multiple offenses in connection with running Silk Road.

Silk Road is part of the so-called deep web, which can only be accessed with a special web browser. There, users could purchase drugs, and pay for them using anonymous currencies like Bitcoin.

This summer, the FBI took clandestine control of sites using the deep web’s TOR routing technology, which Silk Road used. The action knocked out many TOR sites – some harmless, and some trafficking in activities like money laundering and child pornography.

Ross Ulbricht lists Austin as his homebase in his LinkedIn profile, and according to reporting from Reuters, his parents live in Austin; according to LinkedIn, he earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

But Ulbricht seemingly divided his time between here in San Francisco, where he was arrested this morning. NPR has more about the arrest:  

According to the criminal complaint, Ulbricht also allegedly "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."

FBI agent Christopher Tarbell says "Silk Road has emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today," adding that the site was used by "several thousand drug dealers" to sell "hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs."

The Guardian reported earlier this year that the site, founded in February 2011, hosted $1.7 million in sales a month after only six months in existence. It described the Silk Road as "an underground eBay-like site which has become the core marketplace for buying and selling drugs online."