Reporting Linh Bui
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—An accused multi-millionaire drug lord is now behind bars, and a massive black market drug ring is shut down.
Linh Bui reports an undercover agent in Maryland helped bring him down.
Investigators say this online drug operation was sophisticated and stretched around the world but that the man behind it made a crucial mistake leading to his arrest.
Illegal drugs and services, including heroin, cocaine and guns, were all available at an online market known as Silk Road.
“Silk Road was set up to be completely anonymous, hidden from law enforcement efforts,” said Jan Fedarcyk, former FBI assistant director of the New York office.
The FBI shut down Silk Road on Wednesday and say Ross Ulbricht, 29, is the notorious digital drug lord behind the billion-dollar marketplace.
Ulbricht did a YouTube interview last year.
“I want to have a substantial positive impact on the future of humanity,” he said in the interview.
Instead, agents arrested him in San Francisco.
He’s charged in New York with being the mastermind of Silk Road.
He’s also charged in Maryland with ordering the torture and murder of a witness. According to court records, he wired $80,000 to the undercover agent after seeing staged photos of the faked torture.
The investigation took two years because Silk Road used a cyber currency called bit coins, which are hard to trace.
And Ulbricht allegedly designed his site outside the regular Internet, so his nearly one million users could stay anonymous.
“It’s completely encrypted and no one knows that it’s you who sent it,” said John Biggs, Techcrunch.
But the feds say Ulbricht slipped up. While seeking tech help for his site, he used his personal email and gave his real name.
“That was his fatal flaw. It was pretty ridiculous that you would put your real name out there. If you’re going to create this, become a criminal mastermind, but that’s what he did,” Biggs said.
He now faces life in prison.
It’s not the future he had in mind.
When asked if they thought he’d live forever, Ulbricht responded “I think it’s a possibility . I honestly do. I think I might.”
Investigators say Ulbricht used the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts.” That’s a character from the movie “The Princess Bride.”
Ulbricht is due back in San Francisco federal court Friday morning to discuss bail and his transfer to New York, where the bulk of the charges have been filed.
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