After seizing the digital black market Silk Road and arresting its alleged owner, the police are now going after the users of the site. Police have arrested a man in Washington alleged to be one of the top 1 percent of drug sellers as well as four users in the UK with more arrests to come, according to news reports. Two Swedish men were also reportedly arrested for selling marijuana on Silk Road.
It's unclear to what degree the arrests are related to the takedown of Silk Road, but the timing is probably not a coincidence. These are the first known arrests of Silk Road users in these countries. The overall number of Silk Road busts is relatively low, considering the site did more than $1.2 billion in sales according to the FBI.
The arrest of the man in Washington, Steven Sadler, was done after authorities intercepted packages in the mail containing drugs and cash. The cops traced the drugs back to Sadler and his girlfriend with the cooperation of one of the buyers. Details on the UK and Swedish arrests are scarce, and it is not yet known whether data from the FBI's long-running Silk Road investigation was used.
These are the first known arrests of Silk Road users in the US and UK
American law enforcement gained access to a Silk Road server, meaning the police have a lot of data on transactions and private messages. More cautious users encrypted their messages, which would make it harder for law enforcement, but not everyone was so careful. The closure of Silk Road could have ripple effects for months if authorities use the data to crack down on individual sellers.