He managed to stay under the radar for over two years, but now Ross Ulbricht has sacrificed his freedom and will face charges stemming from his operation of Silk Road, an online marketplace that sold everything from drugs to guns to computer and ATM hacking lessons – even assassins for the right price.This young and highly intelligent entrepreneur made careless mistakes when it came to covering his tracks – even being caught by the Department of Homeland Security with several counterfeit IDs in July. They all carried his photo. When confronted in his San Francisco apartment by agents, he finally admitted that “hypothetically” anyone could order such documents on a website called Silk Road. Although he carefully kept the site’s users hidden, he was less cautious, maybe even cocky, when it came to himself. He revealed his name when contacting developers to work on a Bitcoin (a form of digital currency the site used) start-up. His phone number is on one of his YouTube videos.He called himself Dread Pirate. The FBI called him the “Amazon of illegal drugs” and the “eBay of illicit substances.” He made around 79.9 million in commissions from the site, although that total may fluctuate with Bitcoin instability. Users would access the site, which operated on an encrypted system that would allow anonymity for it’s users, to buy or sell illicit items. Sellers sold 1.2 billion dollars worth of heroin, cocaine, meth, LSD and whatever else. FBI made 100 drug purchases from the site’s more than 13,000 listings in the “drugs” category.Ulbricht is being charged with narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. The FBI called it “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet” according to a report on the ABC News Website.Oh, and he tried to use his site to hire a hitman to deal with someone trying to blackmail him back in March…The drugs the undercover agents purchased were found to be the real thing upon analysis. And maybe Silk Road isn’t the only such site. Topix.com has been around long enough to be established and it also connects buyers and sellers of not-so-legal items.So the big question is: Why did this go on for so long? Selling controlled substances is illegal most places around the world – so how did this polished, double-life “entrepreneur” pull this off?Granted, regulating cyber space may be fraught with difficulty, but how many kids were messed up from what was readily available through Dread Pirate’s greedy little enterprise? Who ended up with guns? Why did it take so long to stop Ulbricht? 100 buys?Even though I hope Topix will be busted before this is even read, is there so much red tape surrounding the arrest of these online criminal brokers that they can sit back and collect, while laughing at the DEA? A worse thought, yet, is that Ulbricht may have enough money to buy his way into a cushy little getaway prison he’ll be out of in a year or so.Whether he has substance abuse issues himself remains to be seen, but this is a case where his culpability is relevant and he should be held accountable. Otherwise, these online drug panderers will continue to pop up. Others who are engaging in the same activities need to be stopped – hopefully in months, rather than years.No wonder we’re losing the war on drugs.If the second site is still running when this is in print, the site name should be omitted, lest those contemplating whether or not they have a substance abuse problem should be tempted to explore further.If you are one of those questioning whether you have a problem, contact a professional. Our staff are happy to answer your questions and guide you in the right direction. There are many treatment options to fit individualized needs.Written by:
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