In addition to the indictments, authorities have seized about 173,991 Bitcoins — currently worth more than $150 million — that they say belonged to Ulbricht. About 29,655 Bitcoins were recovered from servers that authorities say were used to run the Silk Road website, and another 144,336 Bitcoins were seized from a Bitcoin wallet on Ulbricht’s laptop, which authorities grabbed at the time of his arrest in a San Francisco library.
The brazen site provided an international platform for drug dealers around the world to market a cornucopia of wares, expanding their empires beyond the corner drug stops and back alleys where they normally operated. Buyers and sellers could access the site only through the Tor anonymizing service and conducted transactions in Bitcoin to further conceal their identity.
Ulbricht has filed a civil claim asserting ownership of the Bitcoins found on his computer and contesting their forfeiture.
Ulbricht was arrested October 1, following a two year investigation by authorities to unmask the Dread Pirate Roberts.
It’s the second indictment for the the 29-year-old, who was arrested last October in San Francisco. Ulbricht was previously charged in New York at the time of his arrest, but authorities had until December to obtain an indictment against him based on new evidence seized. They sought an extension of that time and announced the indictment today.
“The webpage open on his Tor-enabled Internet browser was part of the administrative infrastructure of Silk Road, consisting of a customer-support interface listing messages from Silk Road users that had been flagged for administrative attention,” prosecutors write. “The previous two pages he had viewed in the browser were similarly part of the Silk Road administrative interface: one page contained a customer-support control panel from which various administrative actions could be taken (e.g. deleting listings, demoting sellers); the other page, titled ‘mastermind,’ provided an overview of the transactions and money moving through the site.”
Although it appears that none of the murders was actually carried out, prosecutors write, “Ulbricht clearly intended them to happen, and the details of the attempted murders demonstrate that Ulbricht will not hesitate to use violence in order to silence witnesses, safeguard his criminal proceeds, or otherwise protect his self-interest.”
Federal authorities today announced a Grand Jury indictment against Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder and owner of the underground drug emporium Silk Road.
Authorities allege that Ulbricht, as Dread Pirate Roberts, actually arranged for a total of six murders, though he hasn’t been charged with the others.
They say that Ulbricht was logged into the computer as DPR when federal agents seized him at the library.
At the same time, Ulbricht has denied through his attorney that he’s Dread Pirate Roberts. But prosecutors say that evidence recovered from the laptop he was using at the time of his arrest at a San Francisco public library “conclusively confirms that Ulbricht was in fact the individual who created and controlled the Silk Road website.
Ulbricht had been previously indicted in Maryland on charges of conspiring to have a former administrator of Silk Road murdered in exchange for $80,000. The deal was allegedly negotiated in 2013 between Dread Pirate Roberts, the owner of the web site — whom authorities say was Ulbricht — and an undercover DEA agent. Although the murder never went down in reality, authorities staged the death and sent Dread Pirate Roberts fake images to convince him it had occurred.
The indictment, in New York, includes one count for narcotics conspiracy, one count of running a criminal enterprise, one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of money laundering, according to the indictment.
Ulbricht was denied bail in a hearing last year and is currently in a detention facility in Brooklyn. His arraignment in New York is scheduled for this Friday, at which point his attorney Joshua Dratel has indicated he will plead not guilty.
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