A drug website? Now that’s not a very common method of drug distribution, but this particular site generated more than $1 billion.
FBI agents found him in the science fiction section of a small branch of the San Francisco public library, chatting online.
Ross William Ulbricht, a 29 year old young man first known as “Altoid” and then changed to “Dread Pirate Roberts” was on his personal laptop Tuesday afternoon in a quiet San Francisco library when 6 FBI agents burst in to bust Ulbricht.
Ulbricht was chatting with a cooperating witness about the vast black market bazaar that is believed to have brokered more than $1 billion in transactions for illegal drugs and services. Due to the cooperating witness, the FBI pinpointed Ulbricht’s location and arrested him and shut down the website immediately
This website was mainly operated in Maryland and New York and Ulbricht has been charged in New York and Maryland federal courts. He is facing allegations of making millions of dollars operating the secret Silk Road website and also for a failed murder-for-hire scheme.
Ulbricht has not entered pleas to any of his charges. He is using a Public Defender which is not the wises decision because public defenders do not have half as much resources and skill as private Federal Criminal Attorneys have.
His New York charges consist of him basically being the mastermind of Silk Road Website, where users could browse anonymously through nearly 13,000 listings under categories like “Cannabis,” ”Psychedelics” and “Stimulants.”
His Maryland charges consist of him allegedly attempting to hire someone for the torture, and then the murder of an employee fearing that he would blow his cover. The someone he was attempting to hire was actually an undercover agent that sent Ulbricht fake pictures of the employee being tortured and then in return Ulbricht wired the undercover agent $80,000 according to the indictment and reports.
Ulbricht was under a two year investigation. It all started in 2011 when FBI agents figured out that Ulbricht was “Altoid”, a person who was marketing Silk Road on other drug-related websites the FBI was watching.
From there, investigators began to monitor Ulbricht’s online behavior closely. At the time, Ulbricht lived with two roommates in an average place paying $1000.00 per month.
Investigators then started connecting Ulbricht to Silk Road by monitoring his email and picking up on some slipups, including using his real name to ask a programmers’ website a highly technical question about connecting to secret sites like Silk Road.
The final draw was when Ulbricht ordered a fake identification card using a different name but same birth date and his own photograph.
According to the indictment, as of July, there were nearly 1 million registered users on the Silk Road site from the United States, Germany, Russia, Australia and elsewhere around the globe. The site generated an estimated $1.2 billion since it started in 2011 and collected $80 million by charging 8 to 15 percent commission on each sale.
Ulbricht faces life in federal prison if convicted of all the charges.