Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of running the underground drug marketplace Silk Road, has been charged with drug trafficking and hiring a hitman to knock off one of his employees. Of course, the hitman was actually an undercover federal agent in Maryland, and no one was actually killed.
Silk Road had a handful of employees, according to court documents, and apparently one of them went astray. This employee, who is not named in the indictment, stole money from users and also managed to get picked up by the police. "I'd like him beat up, then forced to send the bitcoins he stole back," Ulbricht allegedly said, speaking over the internet as Silk Road's pseudonymous captain Dread Pirate Roberts. Later, he changed his mind: "Can you change the order to execute rather than torture?"
"Can you change the order to execute rather than torture?"
The payment was set at a $40,000 down payment, then $40,000 after proof that the murder had been carried out. The undercover agent sent staged photos of the employee being tortured to Dread Pirate Roberts, who expressed some discomfort but maintained that he believed he had done the right thing. The fact that the employee was in police custody suggests he was cooperating with federal agents.
The same undercover agent also sold a kilogram of cocaine through Silk Road with the help of Dread Pirate Roberts, for $27,000 worth of Bitcoin, the semi-anonymous virtual currency used for transactions on Silk Road.
Ulbricht has also been charged in New York with narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Federal agents say he attempted to take out a second hit in Canada for $150,000, but agents could not find proof that it was carried out and he has not been charged.