TORONTO – Just one month after the black market drug ring website Silk Road was shut down by U.S. authorities, a new site has opened up shop under the same name – inviting Silk Road users to “return home.”
Dubbed “Silk Road 2.0” the site, which is already offering a wide range of illegal substances and drug paraphernalia, declared to its users that it’s “even stronger than before” on a message on its homepage.
“It is with great joy that I announce the next chapter of our journey,” wrote the administrator of the new site, who is using the same nickname as the previous administrator, “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
“Silk Road has risen from the ashes, and is now ready and waiting for you all to return home.”
In early October, the FBI shut down the anonymous marketplace and arrested 29-year-old Ross Ulbrich – the alleged mastermind behind the site – seizing between $3.5 to $4 million (US) in digital currency and leading to the arrest of some of its users.
WATCH: Silk Road website goes offline
The Silk Road website allowed users to anonymously browse through nearly 13,000 listings under categories like “Cannabis,” “Psychedelics” and “Stimulants” before making purchases using Bitcoin.
For example, one listing for heroin promised buyers “all rock, no powder, vacuum sealed and stealth shipping,” and had a community forum below where one person commented, “Quality is superb.”
The website, whose other categories included “Erotica” and “Fireworks,” protected users with an encryption technique called onion routing, designed to make it “practically impossible to physically locate the computers hosting or accessing websites on the network,” according to court papers.
The site is believed to have brokered more than $1 billion in transactions for illegal drugs and services.
Ulbrich is accused of running the website by hiding behind the “Dread Pirate Roberts” alias. His lawyer has maintained his innocence, stating “he is not that person,” adding that he denies all charges against his client.
“You can never kill the idea of ‘Silkroad,'” tweeted the user Wednesday, 20 minutes before the site went live to users.
“#SilkRoad while under my watch will never harm a soul. If we did, then we are no better than the thugs on the street,” the user later tweeted.
According to the user’s Twitter feed, over 12,500 people had registered for the new site as of Thursday morning.
“#SilkRoad does not represent drugs, it represents freedom. Do not try to brand us as addicts because that old trick is faltering for you,” the account tweeted Thursday.
But some users are treading carefully about using the new site. According to a report by The Huffington Post, some are speculating that the site may be a trap set out by law enforcement agencies to try to bust more online black market users.
- With files from the Associated Press
© Shaw Media, 2013