Ross William Ulbricht, 29, who is accused of running Silk Road, a black marketplace on the Internet where people could buy and sell anything illegal including, drugs, guns, etc. all using bitcoins (online cash) will not fight extradition from California to New York.

The FBI who shutdown the site and arrested Ulbricht earlier this month at a library as he was chatting online with a witness, said that Silk Road wasn’t like other black market sites which openly sell illegal items.  Silk Road was sophisticated and used a user-friendly escrow system, as well as promised anonymity.  Ulbritcht is charged with three felonies related to the website in New York federal court.  He also faces in Baltimore a charge of solicitation of murder.  He allegedly feared that a former worker would turn on him and arranged for him to be murdered after he was arrested on drug charges.  Ulbricht hired an undercover officer to murder the man, according to the FBI.

Prosecutors in New York have charged Ulbricht with solicitation of murder in addition to the website charges.  They allege that a Canadian man hacked into Silk Road and obtained dealer names and began blackmailing Ulbricht using the information, so Ulbricht arranged to kill him.  Ulbricht is accused of operating the black market under the alias Dread Pirate Roberts and he allegedly made $80 million in commissions.  Ulbricht’s public defender, Brandon LeBlanc said he plans to ask for bail when Ulbricht reaches New York.  LeBlanc also confirmed that Ulbricht would have another lawyer in New York.  Inside the five-minute extradition hearing, LeBlanc told U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Joseph Spero, “We … disavow all aliases” meaning that all they were saying was that he was Ross Ulbricht not that he was Dread Pirate Roberts.  By law, federal defendants must be formally identified before the court before they can be transferred anywhere.

Court papers indicate that the FBI has penetrated the behind-the-scenes operations of Silk Road (right) including users and sellers.  Authorities in Britain, Sweden, and the U.S. have arrested at least 8 people charged with selling drugs on the website.  In Washington State, a man and a woman were arrested and accused of selling cocaine, heroine, and methamphetamines.  In court papers, the FBI said it had managed to copy the contents of the site’s server.

“Any large sellers on Silk Road should be very nervous,” said Nicholas Weaver, a researcher with the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley and the University of California, San Diego.

The traceable nature of bitcoins could also help the FBI identify more suspects.


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