The Silk Road Online Drug Marketplace by the Numbers
Until then, Silk Road had relatively quietly become what the FBI itself refers to as “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet.” In less than three years, since January 2011, Silk Road had become something like an eBay — except it trafficked in drugs and other illegal goods.
But just how big was Silk Road? The following numbers, excerpted from the criminal complaint against the Ulbricht in New York (.PDF), and the indictment in Maryland (.PDF), give an idea of how large the site had become, and how much money was flowing through it.
9,519,664 Bitcoins: The estimated sales revenue generated by Silk Road from Feb. 6, 2011, to July 23, 2013 (pretty much its entire existence), which would be equivalent to $1.2 billion. (Important note: all estimations in dollars in the FBI complaint must be taken with a grain of salt as Bitcoin’s value and exchange rate fluctuated continuously during the past three years.)
1,229,465: The number of completed transactions involving 146,946 buyer accounts and 3,877 vendor accounts from Feb. 6, 2011, to July 23, 2013.
614,305 Bitcoins: The total number of commissions generated by those transactions, which are equivalent to $79.8 million. As Ulbricht was apparently the sole administrator of the site, this is how much he he would have made while running Silk Road.
18,205.506649 Bitcoin: the balance in the Silk Road escrow system on Sept. 14, 2013, at 6 a.m. UTC, an amount equivalent to $2,548,770.91.
$1,000 to $2,000: the weekly compensation of a Silk Road employee, paid in Bitcoin.
$19,459 in Bitcoin: Ulbricht’s commission in just one day, July 21, 2013, when he received 3,237 separate transfers.
$3,400,000: The equivalent amount of Bitcoin deposited in Ulbricht’s Silk Road account as of July 23, 2013.
957,079: The total number of registered accounts on Silk Road as of July 23, 2013.
1,217,218: The total number of internal messages sent between Silk Road users during a 60-day period monitored by the FBI, from May 24, 2013, to July 23, 2013.
13,000: The number of listings for drugs on Silk Road, as of Sept. 23, 2013.
159: The number of listings for “services” on Silk Road. These ranged from computer hacking services like breaking into Facebook, Twitter or other social networks, to 22 different methods for hacking ATM machines, and black market contacts to buy counterfeit bills, firearms, and murder-for-hire hitmen in 10 or more countries.
801: The number of listings for “digital goods” such as pirated media, hacked Amazon or Netflix accounts, or hacking tools like Remote Access Trojans (RATs) that allow a hacker to spy on somebody’s computer.
169: The number of listings under “forgeries.” These include fake driver’s licenses, passports‚ Social Security cards‚ credit card statements, car insurance records, and other documents. Curiously, when he launched this section on Aug. 5, 2011, Ulbricht banned users from selling “privately issued documents such as diplomas/certifications‚ tickets or receipts.”
100 or more: The individual purchases made by undercover law enforcement agents posing as Silk Road users during the operation to infiltrate the network. The FBI noted that the purchases came from vendors located in 10 different countries.
$80,000: The amount allegedly paid (in two installments) by Ulbricht to an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as a wholesale cocaine dealer, to kill a former Silk Road employee. Ulbricht allegedly paid this amount in dollars.
1,670 Bitcoin: Amount allegedly paid by Ulbricht to Silk Road user redandwhite to kill FriendlyChemist, another user who was blackmailing Ulbricht in March, 2013. The alleged murder-for-hire is shrouded in mystery, as it produced no body, and the FBI told Mashable that it wasn’t a setup by an undercover agent.
9: The number of counterfeit IDs on the way to Ulbricht’s apartment in San Francisco intercepted on July 10, 2013 in a routine border search by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The documents all had different names on them, but the same picture of Ulbricht.
$1,000: The monthly rent Ulbricht paid in cash to live with two other roommates in San Francisco. The other roommates only knew him by the name “Josh.”
Image: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images