Alleged Silk Road creator indicted on 'kingpin' charges in New York

Ross Ulbricht will plead not guilty at an arraignment scheduled for Friday, his lawyer said

Ross Ulbricht, alleged creator of the online black market Silk Road, was indicted in New York Tuesday on narcotics, money laundering and so-called "kingpin" charges, and faces up to life in prison.

Authorities say Ulbricht created in 2011 the Silk Road, a site that was used to sell drugs including heroin and ecstasy, as well as hacking tools and other goods. He was arrested in October when federal agents picked him up in a San Francisco public library. Prosecutors say his pseudonyms included "Dread Pirate Roberts" and "DPR."

The 29-year-old was indicted Tuesday at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The indictment listed a new charge of engaging in a "continuing criminal enterprise," brought under a federal law sometimes called the kingpin statute. Often used against crime organizations such as drug cartels, it carries a mandatory 20-year sentence and a maximum of life.

Ulbricht had already been charged with narcotics conspiracy, which carries a minimum 10-year sentence and a maximum of life, as well as computer hacking and money laundering offenses.

Ulbricht's attorney, Joshua Dratel, said his client will plead not guilty at an arraignment to be held Friday in New York. "The indictment was expected and does not contain any new factual allegations," he said in a statement. A trial date has not been set.

Silk Road operated on the Tor network, a system of computers connected to the Internet in such a way as to conceal its users' IP addresses. The site was designed to accept payments in the Bitcoin virtual currency, also in an effort to hide the identities and locations of its users, prosecutors said.

To date, nearly 174,000 bitcoins have been seized in the course of the investigation, amounting to more than US$150 million at current exchange rates, according to the indictment.

Several thousand drug dealers and other vendors allegedly used the site between its founding in 2011 and October 2013, when it was shut down by authorities. During that time, hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods were distributed to more than 100,000 buyers worldwide, according to the indictment.

Undercover agents made more than 100 purchases through the site to buy heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD, which were filled by vendors in the U.S., Germany, Canada, Spain and other countries, the indictment says.

The charges include computer hacking because the Silk Road site also provided a market for the sale of malicious software geared toward stealing passwords, keyloggers and remote access tools, the court filing said. There were hundreds of listings for such products on the site.

Last March, prosecutors say, Ulbricht hired a hitman to murder at least one other Silk Road user who was threatening to release the identities of thousands of the site's users. There is no evidence that the murder was carried out, however, the U.S. attorney said in its announcement.

Ulbricht had already been indicted once in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags CriminalInternet-based applications and servicese-commerceBitcoin Foundationlegalsilk roadinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?