SAN FRANCISCO – Silk Road, the online black market bazaar for drugs, hacker tools and other illicit goods, says it is back a month after the FBI took down the website.
And in an unusual twist, the message about the reopening was signed by “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the supposed online moniker of the site’s alleged mastermind, who was arrested last month.
“It is with great joy that I announce the next chapter of our journey. Silk Road has risen from the ashes, and is now ready and waiting for you all to return home,” said the message posted Wednesday on the social news site Reddit.
“It took the FBI two and a half years to do what they did. Divide, conquer and eliminate was their strategy… but four weeks of temporary silence is all they got.
“And as our resilient community bounces back even stronger than ever before, never forget that they can only ever seize assets — they can never arrest our spirit, our ideas or our passion, unless we let them. We will not let them.”
The message said Silk Road had implemented “a complete security overhaul” to keep the marketplace out of the reach of authorities. The site is accessible only through online encryption offered via a service known as Tor.
Federal agents announced on October 2 they had shut down the website, which used a privacy-protecting Tor network and Bitcoin digital currency to shield the identities of buyers and sellers, and arrested accused mastermind Ross William Ulbricht, who was said to be “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
Authorities said that from about January 2011, Ulbricht ran a marketplace that hawked heroin, cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine, as well as hacker tools such as software for stealing passwords or logging keystrokes on people’s machines.
Silk Road took in commissions ranging from eight to 15 percent of sales, raking in at least $80 million on more than $1.2 billion worth of transactions, the criminal complaint estimated.
Ulbricht, who appeared in court this week in New York to face charges of drug conspiracy and a murder-for-hire plot, has claimed he is not “Dread Pirate Roberts,” according to media reports.
His lawyer Joshua Dratel said in a tweet that Ulbricht was “in good spirits” and would face a bail hearing November 21.