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Last updated at 17:15 BST, Thursday, 03 October 2013

FBI shuts down Silk Road website


4 October 2013

The hidden internet marketplace for drugs and illegal services, which is known as the Silk Road, has been shut down by the FBI. The owner of the site, which also advertises computer hacking, has been arrested in San Francisco.


Alastair Leithead

Computer keyboard

FBI agents posed as buyers to trick the website's operators


Click to hear the report


The Silk Road is a website that exists in a hidden part of the internet known as Tor, which allows people anonymous access by hiding their computer's identity and location.

For two and a half years the site has featured thousands of adverts for illegal drugs, services to hack into people's computers, counterfeiters and even hitmen for hire. Buyers pay using Bitcoin, an online currency not tied to any government,­ rather than credit cards,­ to protect their identity and make transactions untraceable.

The FBI has closed the site down and arrested the owner, named as Ross William Ulbricht, who is 29 and also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, in San Francsco.

The FBI said undercover officers used the Silk Road to buy illegal narcotics and services, and have charged Ulbricht with conspiracy to traffic drugs and conspiracy to hack and to launder money. More than $3.5m of Bitcoin currency was also seized.

The criminal papers, issued in New York, described the Silk Road as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the internet today.


Click here to hear the vocabulary



without revealing their name


people who make fake money and other items

hitmen for hire

people who offer to kill others in exchange for money


impossible to find where or who it comes from

undercover officers

agents of the law who use a disguise


secretly planning to do something bad or illegal

to launder money

to move money through banks and legitimate businesses to disguise the fact it was obtained illegally


made complicated in a clever way

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