LONDON (AP) — U.K. authorities have made four arrests following last week's closure of the notorious black market website known as Silk Road, Britain's National Crime Agency said Tuesday, adding that millions of pounds (dollars) worth of electronic currency had been seized.
The agency said the bust happened within hours of the arrest in the United States of the alleged Silk Road administrator Ross Ulbricht, suggesting that authorities may now be targeting the network of drug dealers who made fortunes peddling illicit substances from the Internet bazaar.
The agency's director general Keith Bristow said in a statement that other users of the site would soon feel the heat.
"These latest arrests are just the start; there are many more to come," he said.
Few details of the suspects were released. The Crime Agency called them "significant users" of Silk Road and described them as three men in their 20s from the northern English city of Manchester and a man in his 50s from southwestern England.
Silk Road gained widespread notoriety two years ago as a black market bazaar where visitors could buy and sell hard drugs using bitcoins, an electronic currency independent of any centralized control. A so-called "hidden site," Silk Road used an online tool known as Tor to mask the location of its servers. While many other sites sell drugs more or less openly, Silk Road's sophistication, its user-friendly escrow system and its promise of near-total anonymity quickly made it among the best-known.
Officials say the black market website brokered more than $1 billion in sales before the FBI arrested Ulbricht at the San Francisco public library last week.
Britain's Crime Agency did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the suspects' whereabouts or how much electronic currency had been seized.
In its statement, the agency said the arrests sent a message to criminals that the anonymity touted by sites like Silk Road is an illusion.
"The hidden Internet isn't hidden and your anonymous activity isn't anonymous," it said. "We know where you are, what you are doing and we will catch you."
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