The Silk Road was a black market trading post that operated as a hidden service on the Tor network, largely used to sell and trade illegal goods like narcotics or firearms. In 2013, the FBI shut it down, and within a month it was back online as Silk Road 2.0. A year to the day since the service went back up, the FBI took it down again.
The case of the first Silk Road still isn’t settled, as alleged founder Ross Ulbricht has yet to be convicted. Yet, Blake Benthall, who allegedly took over Silk Road 2.0 in December of 2013 under the username Defcon, was arrested recently. The government stated that it will continue to pursue the matter, regardless of how many iterations of the site spring up.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, prosecuting on both cases, said in a statement:
Let’s be clear — this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison. Those looking to follow in the footsteps of alleged cybercriminals should understand that we will return as many times as necessary to shut down noxious online criminal bazaars. We don’t get tired.
This move wasn’t just an attempt to shut down Silk Road. According to Ars Technica, this was part of a global day of action on the part of law enforcement authorities. The raids were organized as far as Ireland, and there is evidence that the U.S. government had an undercover agent in place since Benthall took over.
It’s clear that governments will continue to devote resources to taking on darknet crime and operations like the Silk Road in particular. However, the Silk Road 2.0 was generating $8 million per month before it was shut down, so it probably won’t be long before a successor appears. Fans of the Silk Road certainly aren’t keeping quiet on the matter.