The online black market website Silk Road was shut down today by the FBI, according to a complaint filed with the Southern District of New York.
We all knew it was a matter of time before it happened. Ever since the War on Drugs was declared, the government has had very little tolerance for drugs, and even lower tolerance for drug dealers.
The site had become famous for the high volume and high profile of drug sales online using the anonymous Tor network, which allowed the online black market and other sites like it (such as Atlantis) under the radar for as long as they did. Recently, Atlantis itself shut down voluntarily, citing “security concerns.”
The government made over 100 purchases online over the course of two years using Silk Road, and it is believed that the site has done over $1.2 billion worth of sales in its approximately 30 months of operation.
The Silk Road shutdown came about as a result of the FBI monitoring the private messages of its founder. The complaint filed alleges that the founder, who went by the name Dread Pirate Roberts, put a bounty on the head of a Silk Road user who was trying to blackmail the site for a half-million dollar payout.
It appears, though, that this was not the first time a bounty had been placed on someone by the founder. When negotiating the price for the hit on the blackmailer, the site owner claimed that he had done it before, and that the price was far lower on that occasion. Supposedly, the hit had been performed, but without evidence of a homicide, the FBI was unable to file murder charges.
Supposedly, the complaint alleges a 29-year old San Franciscan as the owner, founder, and operator behind The Silk Road. Strangely enough, the individual in question had a very visible social media presence, whereas the identity of Dread Pirate Roberts was unknown to the public at large up until now.
As in real life, drugs and money cause people to do some pretty unusual things. It makes little difference if the market place is online, a street corner, or behind closed doors in a corporate environment. The Silk Road and other sites like it have proven that people will feed their addictions however they are able, and ultimately, those addictions ruin our quality of life.
Remember that the drugs or alcohol are but a symptom. It is not necessarily the substance itself that is an issue; it is our reaction and overwhelming drive for more that destroys our relationships, our health, and our peace of mind. We live double-lives. As addicts and alcoholics, the extremity of our disease is so progressive that we hardly notice a shift until some major consequence is staring us in the face. In the end, we either find a way out, or it finds a conclusion for us, and it is never one that we ourselves would chose if we still had control.