Silk Road Pirate Leader Convicted in Federal Criminal Trial

Dread Pirate Roberts, Leader of the Silk Road, Convicted on All Federal Charges in Federal Criminal Trial

federal criminal trialIn a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, the former Dread Pirate Roberts, creator of the illegal trafficking website The Silk Road, has been convicted on all seven federal charges in a federal criminal trial.

Ross Ulbricht, 30, went by the online handle “Dread Pirate Roberts,” and created the notorious Deep Web trading site, The Silk Road, which also spawned the radical online-only currency, BitCoin. The Silk Road, which Ulbricht called a “libertarian experiment,” catered to anyone looking for any illicit service or substance, from drugs to prostitution to assassination.

On Wednesday, February 4th, the jury deliberated for only 3 hours and returned a guilty verdict for all seven federal charges, which included a variety of federal offenses such as money laundering, narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, and soliciting murder-for-hire.

“Silk Road has emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today,” FBI Agent Christopher Tarbell wrote in an affidavit in 2013. “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 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. On March 29th, 2013, 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.

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.

Once Ulbricht’s laptop was seized, computer forensics investigators found that not only did Ulbricht conceive and create the Silk Road website, but he also tried to hire assassins to murder at least 5 people, who threatened the anonymity of buyers or sellers. Prosecutors also told jurors that at least $213 million worth of BitCoins were trafficked through the site to purchase illegal drugs or services.

“The supposed anonymity of the dark web is not a protective shield from arrest and prosecution,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement after the verdict.

Ulbricht could face life in prison due to the severity of each of the federal charges. At least one of the charges carries a mandatory 20-year minimum sentence.

The Strom Law Firm Helps Defend Against Charges in Federal Criminal Trials

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 South Carolina federal charges and face a criminal trial, 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

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