Oct. 3, 2013 LA Times
For two years, the FBI tracked the elusive founder of Silk Road, an Internet site that peddled heroin, ecstasy and every known type of prescription medication.
The manhunt ended with the arrest of an unlikely suspect: Ross William Ulbricht, a 29-year-old former physics student from San Francisco.
Prosecutors on Wednesday described Ulbricht as a criminal mastermind who built an illegal drug empire that they estimated had $1.2 billion in sales over the last three years, earning him $80 million. Silk Road was the drug world's equivalent of EBay, acting as a matchmaker between dealers and buyers worldwide.
Authorities allege that the wrongdoing went far beyond narcotics. The site was also a marketplace for firearms, ammunition and computer hacking services. And Ulbricht was accused in separate complaints of paying for the attempted murders of two business associates who he believed had crossed him.
The arrest underscores the extensive use of the Internet by criminals who frequently mimic the legitimate business models of Internet retailers. Thousands of drug dealers advertised on Silk Road, and dispatched their products via U.S. mail. The site took a slice of each sale using the Bitcoin online currency. Read More