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7 Nov, 2013 10:45

‘Risen from ashes’: Silk Road online again, 1 month after FBI crackdown

‘Risen from ashes’: Silk Road online again, 1 month after FBI crackdown

An almost exact copy of the notorious internet marketplace for illicit drugs called Silk Road was launched on Wednesday. The platform comes online a month after the FBI shut down the original one and arrested its alleged founder.

The new Silk Road’s welcome page mocks law enforcers’ efforts to put an end to online illegal drug sales. It’s designed in imitation of the FBI sign placed upon the outlawed old version of the website, only instead of “The hidden site has been seized,” it reads “The hidden site has risen.”

Just like the original Silk Road, its new version can be accessed via the anonymous browser Tor. Purchases can be made by the digital currency bitcoin, believed to be untraceable.

Already at its launch the new version of the site offered its users a choice from 500 various drug listings.

"'It took the FBI two-and-a-half years to do what they did ... but four weeks of temporary silence is all they got,” reads a note from the site administrator, who as in the case with the shuttered site, goes under the nickname of 'Dread Pirate Roberts'.

Silk Road has risen from the ashes, and is now ready and waiting for you all to return home," it adds.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation shut it down on October 1. It also arrested the alleged mastermind of the website and the online personality of 'Dread Pirate Roberts', Ross William Ulbricht, 29. He is accused of drug trafficking, hacking and money laundering.

According to court papers, Silk Road generated sales of more than 9.5 million bitcoins (roughly $1.2 billion).

His lawyer, Joshua Dratel, announced on Wednesday his client would plead not guilty and would ask a judge to release him on bail.

"He is not the person that they are saying he is," Dratel said, as cited by USA Today. "He is a regular person, someone who has never been in trouble."

The new ‘Dead Pirate Roberts’ has already appeared on Twitter, posting on progress being made by the relaunched Silk Road.

7,000 people have registered so far and no sign of slowing down. 7,000 more voices who add to the call of freedom.

— Dread Pirate Roberts (@DreadPirateSR) November 7, 2013

The online personality promises improved secrecy to the Silk Road’s users as well as measures to prevent their digital money from being lost in case of another shutdown by law enforcers.  

The closure of the previous version of Silk Road in October included the seizure of $3.6 million worth of bitcoins, the FBI reported.

A few days later, internet users discovered what they believed was the FBI’s bitcoin wallet and started bombarding it with tiny donations attached with critical messages.

A week after the arrest of the alleged Silk Road founder, eight more people were detained in connection with the case in Britain, Sweden and the US.

Two weeks ago, federal prosecutors announced they seized another 144,336 bitcoins found on Ulbricht's confiscated computer, approximately equivalent to $28.5 million.