October 11, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Over the past couple years, a website called the Silk Road gained popularity as a marketplace that allowed users to anonymously sell and purchase drugs, guns and other illegal materials. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had arrested the man in charge of the website, Ross William Ulbricht, on a variety of charges, including cannabis trafficking
Ulbricht, known by the username Dread Pirate Roberts, was a former college student who built the Silk Road into a drug trafficking empire that totaled approximately $1.2 billion in sales over the last three years according to some estimates. The site required users to install software on their computers that would conceal both their identity and location. Sales were conducted in Bitcoins, a popular virtual currency. Sellers would distribute drugs and other materials via U.S. mail and the Silk Road would take a percentage of each sale. Authorities believe that Ulbricht earned roughly $80 million since 2011, when he founded the website.
Federal authorities have been searching for the person in charge of the Silk Road for since its founding. Ulbricht proved not only difficult to find, but also an unlikely suspect. A former student of computer science and physics, it is not believed he had any previous run-ins with the law.
What is particularly surprising is the extent of Ulbricht's alleged crimes. In addition to money laundering, drug trafficking and computer hacking charges, Ulbricht faces charges for allegedly arranging the murders of two former associates whom he believed had stolen money from his company. According to authorities, Ulbricht attempted to arrange the killings with an undercover officer posing as a hit man. He even demanded that the person who committed the murders take videos as proof that they had been completed. What is worse, he also claimed to have had people killed in the past.
Ulbricht's arrest is also notable because it marks the largest ever seizure of virtual currency by law enforcement agents. As the popularity of Bitcoins has grown, the use of the currency has been touted by many in the tech industry, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg. Authorities, however, are not supporters of Bitcoins because they suggest that it makes it easier to conduct illegal activities, particularly drug trafficking.
It is too early to know what will happen in Ulbricht's case, but he faces significant time in prison, as well as substantial fines, if he is convicted of all charges.
Article provided by Polinske & Associates, P.C.
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