Nightly News   |  October 02, 2013

FBI shuts down largest illegal drug website

The FBI has arrested the man running the website known as Silk Road, considered the web’s biggest bazaar for illegal drugs. Investigators say it generated $1.2 billion in sales. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> the fbi today shut down what it's calling the most sophisticated internet site in the business of selling hard drugs including heroin, cocaine and sd. our justice correspondent pete williams following this story for us in our d.c. newsroom tonight. pete, good evening.

>> reporter: brian, fbi agents say they have been closing in on the operation for two years, even making over 100 purchases of illegal drugs from the site and having it all shipped to them in new york. anyone trying to log onto the site today found this notice -- shut down by the fbi . when it was running, federal prosecutors say the website known as silk road was the biggest bazaar for illegal drugs on the internet, an international marketplace with a sideline in illegal hacking software. prosecutors re veal ed today uh they arrested the man accused of rub running the site, a 29-year-old with degrees in physics and engineering.

>> he was a dream for drug users . he was very technically adept and was able to hide both the website he put together and the actual sale s of illegal drugs that drug sellers would make on his website.

>> reporter: investigators say in the two and a half years it was operating it generated roughly $1.2 billion in sales. with nearly 960,000 users, both buyers and sellers in the u.s. and more than a dozen other countries worldwide. court documents say the site urged sellers to vacuum seal packages to avoid detection by canine or electronic sniffers and urged buyers to have shipments sent to a friend's house or a p.o. box . investigators say it was an on oh line market for virtually any illegal drug imaginable including heroin, cocaine, lsd and methamphetamine. the fbi says this ad offered high quality heroin, all rock, conveniently vacuum sealed. a reporter for forbes magazine wrote in august about buying marijuana off the silk road website.

>> it absolutely worked. it was very professional. sort of seamless e-commerce.

>> reporter: he called himself dread pirate roberts after a character in a movie. and he's accused of offering money to have a person killed who was said to try to expose uh the site.