In 2013, the FBI shut down an online black market known as Silk Road. Silk Road was hidden on the Tor network, an encrypted network that allows users to browse websites in full anonymity. Tor is otherwise known as a darknet, and darknet black markets tend to thrive in illegal activity. Silk Road was a marketplace specifically designed for the sale of illegal drugs, making it an attractive target for the FBI and DEA.
When the FBI shut down Silk Road, they also arrested Ross William Ulbricht, the alleged founder of Silk Road. He was charged with money laundering and conspiracy to traffic narcotics, among other charges. Perhaps most interesting was the charge that Ulbricht paid for the murders of business rivals that he perceived to be a threat to his business.
The resulting trial concluded in February 2015, with the jury deciding that Ulbricht was guilty of all charges. He was served with two life sentences with no chance at parole.
Since Silk Road was shut down, a second version of Silk Road, simply called Silk Road 2.0, came online. It was brought online by administrators of the original Silk Road, but it too was shut down, exactly one year after it first appeared. Silk Road 2.0’s administrator was also arrested and faced charges similar to the ones Ulbricht faced.
However, the story of Silk Road does not end there. Silk Road 3.0 appeared in October 2015, although it is much smaller than previous editions of Silk Road. Even stranger, a former Secret Service agent pleaded guilty on charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice while he was part of a team investigating Silk Road. He allegedly stole over $820,000 worth of bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency used to purchase drugs on Silk Road, during the investigation.
Shortly after he was charged, it was found that a former DEA agent was charged similarly, having also taken money during the Silk Road investigation. It is not clear how much money he stole. For now, the Silk Road story is quiet, until the FBI is able to shut down the next illegal darknet marketplace.