Four months after FBI agents arrested Ross Ulbricht, the alleged creator of the Silk Road online black market for drugs, he’s finally been formally indicted. And prosecutors have thrown in a serious new charge that’s usually reserved for not just common criminals, but mafia dons and drug cartel kingpins–with an extra 20 years minimum prison time attached to it.
In the indictment released Tuesday, Ulbricht is charged with not only engaging in a narcotics, hacking and money-laundering conspiracy, but a “continuing criminal enterprise,” a charge sometimes referred to as the “kingpin statute.” That law applies to alleged criminal organizations with six or more members organized by a single leader. And it brings Ulbricht’s potential minimum prison sentence to 30 years when added to the 10-year minimum sentence associated with the narcotics conspiracy charge. Both charges also carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
@a_greenberg Looks like Ulbricht could be eligible for mandatory life under the $10 mil revenue part of the kingpin law. What do you reckon?
— Ian Duncan (@iduncan) February 4, 2014
Notably missing from the charges are any that mention prosecutors’ claims that he engaged in murder-for-hire schemes intended to have six people killed, including a potential witness and a blackmailer. While Ulbricht has been charged with murder-for-hire in one of those cases in a Maryland court–the DEA-faked killing of Dread Pirate Roberts employee Curtis Clark Green–the other five cases haven’t been included in his criminal indictment, possibly due to the fact that no bodies were ever found for those alleged victims.
Ulbricht’s defense attorney Joshua Dratel said in a statement, “Ross will be pleading not guilty at the arraignment. The indictment was expected and does not contain any new factual allegations. We look forward to beginning the discovery process and preparing Ross’s defense.”