What's at Stake in the Silk Road Black Market Website Trial

PHOTO: silkroadsilkroadvb5piz3r.onion.to
The notice posted on the Silk Road website, which the Government has seized.

The man alleged to be at the center of the illicit Silk Road operation is set to stand trial fifteen months after federal authorities shuttered the billion dollar black market website.

Ross William Ulbricht allegedly ran Silk Road, which the FBI called "the most sophisticated criminal marketplace on the Internet," where everything from guns and drugs to assassins-for-hire were offered. He has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities allege Ulbricht is the mastermind behind Silk Road, where he went by the pseudonym "Dread Pirate Roberts," a reference to the mysterious character from "The Princess Bride" movie.

Among the evidence jurors will hear is information about what prosecutors say is Ulbricht's role in six murder plots.

A criminal complaint alleges that in March 2013, Ulbricht solicited a Silk Road user to carry out a murder plot in order to prevent the person from exposing the identities of Silk Road users.

PHOTO: An artist rendering depicts Ross William Ulbricht during an appearance at federal court in San Francisco, in this Oct. 4, 2013 file photo. Vicki Behringer/AP Photo
An artist rendering depicts Ross William Ulbricht during an appearance at federal court in San Francisco, in this Oct. 4, 2013 file photo.

At its peak, the website was called the "Amazon of illegal drugs" and the "eBay of illicit substances" where customers could purchase contraband as easily as making a simple purchase on any other website through an encrypted system that protected their identities.

The FBI estimated that the website had more than 100,000 buyers, according to the initial complaint.

At the time of Ulbricht's arrest, authorities said the website had conducted $1.2 billion worth of transactions in the online currency Bitcoin, along with $80 million in commissions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.