No one really knows whether 29-year-old (name withheld for privacy) is the man behind the online drug marketplace known as “Silk Road.” The only thing that prosecutors seem to be able to prove is that some of his Internet activity can be traced to the site’s administration. But, is that enough to demonstrate that he is the mysterious person behind the popular site that sold illegal substances like heroin and cocaine (CA Health and Safety Code 11351) and offered buyers an opportunity to purchase them anonymously. By all accounts, the website operated just like any other online purchasing website.
Federal authorities have already made several other arrests in the case, but not because the “Dread Pirate Roberts” wasn’t careful; he or she used ‘Tor’ and a ‘Bitcoin protocol’ (a kind of digital currency) to protect his or her clients from police detection. It was the U.S. Postal workers who spurred the investigation after finding various shipments of drugs that had been concealed. In fact, the “Silk Road” was a global operation and arrests have been made in at least Britain and Sweden.
He has a degree in chemical engineering, is not only accused of these ‘cybercrimes,’ (CA Penal Code 502) but also of attempting to murder a former Silk Road employee whom he believed would inform police of the enterprise (CA Penal Code 664(a)). Allegedly, he agreed to pay approximately $80,000 for the planned ‘hit’ in bitcoins. It is difficult to say how the federal government will apply current drug trafficking laws to this particular case. However, if convicted of an attempted ‘murder-for-hire,’ he could face severe penalties in Maryland, where those charges have been added as part of an alleged witness tampering scheme.