The Silk Road shutdown and arrest of its owner, Ross Ulbricht, occurred in October 2013, and on Friday a federal judge announced the start date for the trial. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest set Nov. 3 as the date.
Ulbricht was arrested in conjunction with the shutdown of the infamous online marketplace known as Silk Road. Located on the Tor (The Onion Router) network, Silk Road let users buy and sell illegal drugs, guns, access to hitmen, stolen credit card information as well as legal goods via Bitcoin transactions. Ulbricht created and owned Silk Road and was known by the user name “Dread Pirate Robert.”
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the indictment of Ulbricht on Feb. 4. Ulbricht is charged with one count of narcotics conspiracy (mandatory minimum of 10 years), one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise (mandatory minimum of 20 years, maximum sentence of life), one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking (maximum sentence of five years) and one count of money laundering conspiracy (maximum sentence of 20 years).
According to the indictment, Silk Road had close to 13,000 listings for controlled substances, 159 listings for illegal services, 801 listings for digital goods, such as pirated media or malicious software, and 169 listings for forgeries. The FBI made more than 100 undercover purchases from November 2011 to September 2013.
Based on the initial announcement of the Silk Road shutdown, lifetime sales roughly totaled $1.2 billion and the FBI recorded 1,229,465 transactions on Silk Road between Feb. 6, 2011, and July 23, 2013. According to the latest announcement, “To date, approximately 173,991 Bitcoins (worth over $150 million at present exchange rates) have been seized in the course of the investigation, including approximately 29,655 Bitcoins recovered from servers used to run the Silk Road website, and approximately 144,336 Bitcoins recovered from computer hardware belonging to Ulbricht seized upon his arrest.”
Ulbricht has pleaded not guilty to the charges, reports Agence France-Presse. His attorney, Joshua Dratel, will consider a request for bail for his client, but prosecutors would oppose such a request.
Bharara said the investigation is continuing and more charges could be filed against Ulbricht. The U.S. attorney also charged three individuals, Andrew Michael Jones (“Inigo”), Gary Davis (“Libertas”) and Peter Phillip Nash (“Samesamebutdifferent,” “Batman73,” “Symmetry” and “Anonymousasshit”) for helping Ulbricht run Silk Road. Other Silk Road arrests include Bitcoin dealers BTCKing and Charlie Shrem, while Silk Road’s top heroin dealer, Steven “Nod” Sadler, worked as an FBI informant following his arrest in July 2013.