Four men were arrested last week in the first U.K. detentions linked to the global online network used to sell cocaine and heroin known as Silk Road, the National Crime Agency said.
The four men, one in his early 50s and the rest in their early 20s, were arrested hours after the U.S. police tracked down the alleged mastermind behind Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, on Oct. 1, the NCA said in an e-mailed statement. More people will be arrested in the coming weeks, the NCA said today.
The Silk Road was a cyber-bazaar that brought together buyers and sellers of heroin, cocaine and other illegal goods while keeping users’ identities shrouded in secrecy. It used Bitcoin digital currency to generate the equivalent of $1.2 billion in illicit sales and take in $80 million in commissions in less than three years, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in New York.
“These arrests send a clear message to criminals,” Keith Bristow, the NCA’s Director General, said in the statement. “The hidden Internet isn’t hidden and your anonymous activity isn’t anonymous. We know where you are, what you are doing and we will catch you.
Ulbricht, 29, was charged with narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.
The NCA, which started operations yesterday, focuses on stopping organized crime activities in the U.K.