Dread Pirate Roberts is more than just a fictional character in the Princess Bride. His moniker alludes to the largest online, black market, drug ring -Silk Road. Enter the young and secret mind of one Ross William Ulbricht, 29, who has been accused by the FBI as the lead mastermind kingpin behind this massive cyber ring. Ulbricht is talented and obviously carries a tremendous amount of technological transaction know-how. The who behind this elusive Internet mask has finally been revealed and busted by the FBI.
The FBI is remaining pretty quiet on their own level of tracking of the highly sought after cyber drug king. Ulbricht initiated sophisticated encryption and anonymity tools. How did the young millionaire hide his identity online? He created an anonymous marketplace through Tor, a notorious anonymity tool for online information or transactions. While Tor promotes the ability of sensitive communications to happen online, such as forums for survivors of abuse and rape, it seems a dark line has been drawn for use.
Ulbricht used the marketplace and opted to use their aspect of currency called bitcoin. Bitcoin usually is reserved for high-end financial transactions, typically used by military and government operations. The complexity of bitcoin is a little difficult to breakdown, but the best way to translate: it is a digital currency. The operations and full details of how it works is included at the bottom of this article for those that are interested in learning more. Ulbricht was collecting an annual revenue of at least $45 million. Alleged reports are surfacing it may have been much larger. The disguise of the Silk Road drug kingpin is now released and currently under investigation.
During a review of the last two years, Ulbricht collected over 900,000 dedicated buyers worldwide. During a tip, it was FBI special agent Christopher Tarbell who was selected to enter the online marketplace. Tarbell made over 100 purchases through the site and awaited the drugs to arrive to have them reviewed via a lab analysis. Tarbell credits the assistance from Comcast, Department of Homeland Security, and the US Border Patrol. The FBI agent stated after the reports from the lab came in, it showed purity levels of the highest degree, as advertised.
The drugs sold on the marketplace consisted of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and a host of other illegal substances. A list of vendors were also retrieved from Ulbricht’s records, including a customer list that will lead to more arrests. Ulbricht, in all instances, was careless, he maintained social media profiles on Google+ and LinkedIn. Surface review shows the brilliance behind the method Ulbricht conducted. Makes one wonder if an arrest can lead to a job opportunity for the most wanted digital kingpin.
Where did Ulbricht slip up? The filthy rich drug lord visited a site called Stack Overflow. This site is a question and answer meeting place where users can inquire how to make things work, for all things digital. One person inquired on how one can get connected to Tor. Ulbricht responded and initially, reports the FBI, he answered with his real name. Realizing his amateur mistake, he quickly edited his user name called Frosty. While Ulbricht’s mistake may have further closed the coffin over the long-time business, further yet is perhaps the bad connections he made.
Communications seized by the FBI showed a connection, a drug vendor who went by the moniker FriendlyChemist – blackmailed Ulbricht for $500,000 or he would take the identity of the Silk Road drug king to the manufacturers FriendlyChemist owed money to. Sidestepping the threat, Ulbricht contacted the manufacturers and struck a deal. A deal that became darker when Ulbricht offered a transaction for FriendlyChemist to be murdered. Read the transcript below:
The road of tracking and capturing the Silk Road drug kingpin is filled with digital wonder, murder and undiscovered buyers in a game that caught up to the young mind of Ulbricht. This is not the first story the readers will see. A long trial is certain to start or, perhaps, as mentioned earlier, a job opportunity. Overall, as more information is discovered and released, Guardian Express will be here to update readers regarding the identity and background of Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road’s ultimate digital drug kingpin.