The Silk Road website protected users with an encryption technique called “onion routing,” which is designed to make it “practically impossible to physically locate the computers hosting or accessing websites on the network,” court papers said. 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 defendant announced in a website forum in 2012 that to avoid confusion he needed to change his Silk Road username, according to court papers released Wednesday. He wrote, “drum roll please ... my new name is: Dread Pirate Roberts,” an apparent reference to a swashbuckling character in “The Princess Bride,” the 1987 comedy film based on a novel of the same name.
As of July, there were nearly 1 million registered users of the site from the United States, Germany, Russia, Australia and elsewhere around the globe, the court papers said. The site generated an estimated $1.2 billion since it started in 2011 and collected $80 million by charging 8 to 15 percent commission on each sale, they said.
Associated Press writer Tom Hays and AP researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York contributed to this report.