Calif. man accused of running massive online drug operation


by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 8:48 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations confirmed with WHAS11 sister station KVUE News Wednesday that Austin, Texas native, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested in San Francisco for allegedly running what the agency said was the biggest illegal online market of drugs in the country. 

Ulbricht, 29, listed a home in the 2100 block of Matthews Drive in West Austin’s Tarrytown as his address.  However, neighbors with whom KVUE spoke with said they’d never heard of him. 

A two-year investigation by the FBI, Homeland Security, IRS and DEA resulted in a 39-page complaint against Ulbricht which charges him with money laundering, narcotics trafficking and computer hacking. 

Federal investigators are quoted in the complaint paperwork as saying that Ulbricht ran “the most sophisticated and extensive marketplace on the internet today."

The hidden website was called “Silk Road."  Federal agents have already taken it down. 

It’s believed several thousand drug dealers from around the world used Silk Road for their wares. Federal agents said the illegal website used an online form of currency called bitcoins.

It’s believed that Silk Road garnished $1.2 billion in sales in two years time. It’s also believed Ulbricht made $80 million in commission in that time span. 

Screen shots from the website taken by investigators show everything for sale from high grade heroin to hydroponic marijuana, pure cocaine, meth paste, Xanax, GBL, and oxycontin, just to name a few. 

Ulbricht is also accused of selling weapons and computer hacking material. 

A spokesperson from the FBI would not go into the detail about what first led investigators to Ulbricht two years ago when their investigation first began.   

The federal complaint also alleges Ulbricht paid a would-be hitman $150,000 to kill a customer who threatened to disclose his hidden website and customer names. In reference to the six figures wanted by the hit man for hire, Ulbricht is quoted as saying “the price seems kind of high. Not long ago I had a clean hit done for $80,000." 

Ulbricht listed his career in Austin as an investor advisor and entrepreneur. 

The court paperwork states Ulbricht had a small staff; however, it is unclear if more arrests are pending. 

The FBI said Ulbricht has a detention hearing scheduled in San Francisco Friday morning, Oct. 4.