Judge sends 'Silk Road' drug site suspect back to New York

A judge has ordered the alleged mastermind behind online drug marketplace 'Silk Road' to be sent from SF to NY to face charges.
October 9, 2013 6:29:42 PM PDT
The Bay Area man accused of running a massive online drug ring is leaving town. He agreed Wednesday to go quietly to New York to face charges for an operation that authorities say existed in something called the "deep web," the furthest recesses of the Internet.

San Francisco police say Ross Ulbricht made a fortune selling drugs there, and now he's facing all sorts of charges.

Ulbricht appeared in federal court Wednesday in leg shackles. He's being extradited to New York because that's where the U.S. attorney filed charges against him.

He waived his right to ask for bail. In federal court he agreed to remain in custody while he's transported to New York. Once there, he'll face money laundering and drug charges related to a notorious online black market for drugs known as Silk Road.

Authorities say the 29-year-old San Francisco resident used the alias Dread Pirate Roberts, just like the character in "The Princess Bride," and that he operated Silk Road on a so-called "deep web" where fictitious names and emails are hard to track.

Court records show Silk Road sold more than $1 billion of illegal drugs around the world in just three years, generating tens of millions in commissions.

"Whoever started Silk Road did the world a great service and it's a step in the right direction," said Joshua Braun.

Braun was convicted of money laundering and marijuana sales three years ago when he ran a medical pot club in Santa Barbara.

Braun says he's been on Silk Road and knows others who've bought drugs from there. He says the site enables people to make purchases safely without having to go to dangerous parts of town, looking for dealers.

"The quality and purity of the drugs is almost never in question," Braun said. "The feedback system that they had was very sophisticated. The escrow system was very sophisticated and it took the danger out of the drug market."

"Whether it's an Internet sale or a street corner sale, it's against the law," said DEA special agent Karl Nichols.

Nichols says Braun and others who praise online drug sales are missing the point.

"These drugs, controlled substances, are hazardous," he said. "They're hazardous to human life."

Court documents several thousand drug dealers from around the world used the secret site.

Eight more people have been arrested since the F BI shut down Silk Road's site.

They include one man in Washington State who's accused of drug dealing on the site. Seven others were arrested in Britain and Sweden.

Ulbricht is also accused of engaging in a murder-for-hire plot. Authorities say he unknowingly hired an undercover agent to kill a person who threatened to reveal the identities of his users unless Ulbricht paid him off.


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