Austin native charged with running massive drug operation

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by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheltonG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on October 2, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 3 at 9:54 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, California – An Austin man has been charged with running the country's largest illegal online drug market.

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations confirmed with KVUE News Wednesday that Ross William Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco.

The 29-year-old listed a home on Matthews Drive in West Austin’s Tarrytown as his address. However neighbors who spoke to KVUE say they've never heard of him.

A two-year investigation by the FBI, Homeland Security, the IRS and the DEA resulted in a 39-page complaint against Ulbricht which charges the Austin native 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 that several thousand drug dealers from around the world used Silk Road for their wares.

Federal agents say that 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 that 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.

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

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

The federal complaint also alleges that 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 also says that Ulbricht had a small staff. The FBI hasn't said if more arrests are pending.

The FBI says Ulbricht has a detention hearing scheduled in San Francisco Friday morning.

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