Owner of Silk Road Arrested on Serious Federal Charges

federal chargesCreator of BitCoin and Owner of Silk Road Exchange Website Arrested on Federal Charges for Drugs, Attempted Homicide

Federal agents have officially seized and shut down the Silk Road, a billion-dollar website that operated using its own currency called BitCoins, and arrested its creator on serious federal charges. The government has been attempting to seize the website for years because it allegedly operated as a huge black market, notorious particularly for the sale of illegal drugs, fake drivers’ licenses, hacking services, and murder-for-hire services.

The FBI also seized $3.6 million worth of BitCoins when they shut down the site.

“During its two and a half years in operation, Silk Road has been used by several thousand drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to well over a hundred thousand buyers,” the government alleges in its indictment.

Ross William Ulbricht, a 29-year-old physicist living in San Francisco, was arrested and indicted for numerous federal chargesincluding money laundering, narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, and soliciting murder-for-hire.

Court documents show that Ulbricht owned and operated the Silk Road website since January 2011, in what Ulbricht called a “libertarian experiment.” The deep web operation allowed drug dealers around the world to sell heroin, cocaine, LSD, prescription drugs, and methamphetamine anonymously. As the Silk Road gained popularity, mainly through illegal activities, the value of BitCoins rose rapidly.

Ulbricht reportedly did everything he could to keep his users anonymous, including murder. On March 29th, the operator contacted a hit-man through the site, requesting the murder of a user who had hacked the site and was threatening to release the names of thousands of Silk Road users. The user reportedly demanded $500,000 to pay off his drug dealers. There is no evidence that the murder-for-hire ever occurred.

“Ulbricht has been willing to pursue violent means to maintain his control of the website and the illegal proceeds it generates for him,” court papers say.

“Silk Road has emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today,” FBI Agent Christopher Tarbell wrote in an affidavit. “The site has sought to make conducting illegal transactions on the Internet as easy and frictionless as shopping online at mainstream e-commerce websites.”

The FBI said that they found Ulbrecht after he ordered several fake IDs through the website. In July, operatives found the primary Silk Road server, which gave them a wealth of information about the site’s illicit activities. When the package addressed to San Francisco was intercepted at the Canada-US border, federal operatives traced it back to Ulbrecht at arrested him on federal charges.

The Strom Law Firm Helps Defend Against Federal Charges

The Strom Law Firm, LLC represents individuals charged with Federal Charges including:

  • Importing controlled substances
  • Manufacturing methamphetamine “Meth”, marijuana, or cocaine
  • Conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute large quantities of drugs

Federal drug charges are serious and can lead to severe consequences.  Many federal drug charges carry severe mandatory sentences with limited opportunities for probation or parole.

Federal drug investigations and indictments are often combined with other charges including:

If you, your loved one, or your corporation has been contacted by a law enforcement officer about federal charges, you should contact the Strom Law Firm, LLC immediately. The Strom Law Firm offers free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us today.803.252.4800