Bitcoins seized as FBI shuts down illegal drug marketplace in US

City A.M. Reporter
US LAW enforcement authorities have shut down Silk Road, the web marketplace for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine as well as criminal activities including murder for hire, and arrested its alleged owner, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said yesterday.

The FBI arrested Silk Road owner Ross William Ulbricht, 29, known as Dread Pirate Roberts, in San Francisco on Tuesday, according to court filings.

Ulbricht appeared in federal court yesterday and a bail hearing was set for tomorrow. His lawyer Brandon LeBlanc declined to comment.

Federal prosecutors in New York charged Ulbricht with one count each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, according to the filing.

Authorities also seized $3.6m worth of digital currency Bitcoin, which was used instead of cash or credit cards to complete transactions on Silk Road. The charges against Ulbricht said his website generated sales of more than 9.5m Bitcoins, roughly equivalent to $1.2bn.

Bitcoins, which have been around since 2008, first came under scrutiny by law enforcement officials in mid-2011 after media reports surfaced linking the digital currency to Silk Road.