A man accused of being an online black market kingpin was indicted Tuesday for a host of crimes relating to his alleged ownership of “Silk Road,” an online marketplace that was heavy in illicit drug trafficking and used the digital currency Bitcoin.
Authorities say Ross Ulbricht, using the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” operated Silk Road as an online drug bazaar that enabled vendors to buy and sell substances anonymously using Bitcoin. Silk Road allowed users to trade hundred of millions of dollars in a wide range of drugs, from marijuana to opioids in difficult-to-trace online corridors, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. Ulbricht was indicted in federal court on four counts: narcotics conspiracy, engaging in a criminal enterprise, computer hacking, and money laundering conspiracy. The charges levied against Ulbricht carry up to a life sentence in prison, with several of the charges carrying a minimum of 20 years. Ulbricht, who was arrested in San Francisco in October, has denied any involvement with Silk Road, saying “Dread Pirate Roberts” is not his online moniker.
More than $150 million worth of Bitcoin have been seized throughout the course of the FBI’s investigation, prosecutors said, money that was used to purchase drugs as well as fund hacking schemes, media pirating, and malware installation.