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Feds say accused Silk Road kingpin ordered six murders to protect his internet drug empire

Feds say accused Silk Road kingpin ordered six murders to protect his internet drug empire

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ross ulbricht IDs
ross ulbricht IDs

Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of running the online black market Silk Road, has been accused of ordering four additional hits on his enemies, according to federal prosecutors. That brings the total number of alleged murder-for-hire attempts to six, although there is no evidence that any of the hits actually occurred.

Five of the hits were related to what Ulbricht thought was an attempted blackmail effort but may have simply been a scam. A user contacted Ulbricht claiming he was going to release identifying information about Silk Road customers unless he was paid off. Ulbricht paid to have the alleged blackmailer, a co-conspirator, and the co-conspirator's three housemates offed. However, the blackmailer may also have been posing as the hitman in an elaborate but bloodless hoax.

All told, the feds say Ulbricht spent $730,000 to whack six people. He also allegedly paid a hitman to off one of his former employees. However, that hitman was actually an undercover federal agent.

There is no evidence that any of the hits actually occurred

None of this helped Ulbricht during his bail hearing in court today. "Ulbricht should be detained as a danger to the community," assistant US attorney Serrin Turner wrote in a letter to the judge. "Given his willingness to pay approximately $730,000 for attempts to kill six people, there is no reason to believe that he would not again resort to violence in order to protect himself, whether through intimidating witnesses, recovering proceeds of his criminal activity, or otherwise."

Ulbricht's lawyer has argued that he is not a flight risk and offered $1 million against his release, a sum that includes the value of Ulbricht's parents' house. He faces charges of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. A New York judge denied him bail.

Prosecutors also alluded to additional evidence today, including a diary found on Ulbricht's hard drive that details the start of Silk Road, originally called "Underground Brokers." Ulbricht was also logged into Silk Road on his laptop at the time he was arrested, revealing that he had access to the administrator account belonging to the site's pseudonymous owner "Dread Pirate Roberts."

The story the feds tell stands in stark contrast to the positive, loving person described by Ulbricht's friends and family, who are now raising money for his defense; one friend even relates a story in which Ulbricht refuses to kill a bee. "I look back on that moment as one where Ross defined himself as one of the kindest people I know," the friend wrote.