Posts Tagged ‘Ross Ulbricht’

Criminal, Civil Complaints against Silk Road Mastermind

by , Oct 4, 2013 | 9:23 am

Journalist Brian Krebs broke the news on Oct. 2 that US federal authorities shut down Silk Road, the most famous, or infamous, Tor network online contraband bazaar. Pursuant to a criminal complaint and related civil complaint and protective order, Ross William Ulbricht (a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts) was arrested in San Francisco as the FBI seized the Silk Road web domain and millions in bitcoin.

But given the role of BTC in Silk Road, one question I have is what this case means for bitcoin, if anything. This case may put virtual currency more front and centre for some, but I don’t think it should have much of a long-term effect on how policy-makers and regulators look at it. That’s because this is fundamentally a drug case, not a bitcoin case. Paragraph one of the criminal complaint emphasizes that the defendant and others agreed to violate the narcotics laws of the United States. Bitcoin was just one of the instrumentalities in the alleged criminal scheme: good technology used for criminal ends.

Ulbricht was charged with one count of narcotics trafficking conspiracy (undercover agents apparently procured ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, and LSD on Silk Road), one count of computer fraud conspiracy, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. A panoply of illicit goods and services were available on Silk Road, including controlled substances and other drugs, computer hacking services, and forged documents. In an allegation that may make for a future bar exam question, Ulbricht is also alleged to have used Silk Road to orchestrate a murder for hire. If the allegations are true, Ulbricht contracted with a drug dealer to murder a Silk Road vendor, paid the drug dealer, received photographic evidence of the killing, and apparently believed that the hit was successful. But apparently the murder did not in fact take place.