When Ross Ulbricht was arrested at a San Francisco-area library in October of 2013, online underground marketplace Silk Road went offline.
On Tuesday, Mr Ulbricht – who the US government alleges is the criminal mastermind behind Silk Road – will stand trial in a Manhattan courthouse for federal charges including narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering, according to a criminal complaint against him. If convicted, Mr Ulbricht could face life in prison.
The case likely will set important precedent about anonymity and surveillance on the internet, as it is the first case of its kind. Mr Ulbricht has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his defence team claims that the US government illegally obtained access to the Silk Road server.
Silk Road launched in 2011 as an underground online forum, but grew in the following two years into a marketplace where users anonymously could buy anything from falsified identification documents to drugs to guns. It’s been estimated that the site made $80m (£53m) prior to going offline.