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Silk Road case began with Maryland indictment

An indictment filed inside a Maryland courthouse led to the arrest of the 29-year-old man allegedly behind the Silk Road, the notorious online marketplace where buyers could obtain illegal drugs and hacked credit card numbers. The only way to pay for their purchases was with the digital currency Bitcoin.

A 29-year-old man faces criminal charges that range from narcotics trafficking and money laundering to murder-for-hire. He was arrested at a public library in San Francisco and is currently being held without bail. His attorney insists that the defendant is not the mastermind behind Silk Road who was known as "Dread Pirate Roberts." The moniker is apparently a name from the novel and movie, "The Princess Bride." The man has pleaded not guilty. His trial is set for November in New York.

After the sealed Maryland indictment was handed down, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents traced one of the Silk Road's servers to Iceland. While court filings do not specify the unnamed country where the server was located, an official with the Reykjavik Police Department issued a statement saying, "the Icelandic police started assisting the F.B.I. with this matter during middle of May last year."

Prosecutors are accusing the defendant of hiring a man he believed was a drug pusher to murder one of Silk Road's employees. The man believed the employee had become a liability. However, unbeknownst to him, the employee was an undercover federal agent.

According to federal prosecutors, Silk Road made sales of approximately $1.2 billion in the two years that it was in operation, making around $80 million in commissions for the owner and his employees.

This case involving digital currency is of high interest to proponents of Bitcoin, who are concerned the digital currency will become tainted due to its apparent link to illegal online transactions.

If faced with felony charges involving alleged white collar crimes, a skilled Maryland defense attorney can mount multiple evidentiary challenges. No matter what the charges defendants may face, they have a right to a fair and just trial.

Source: The New York Times, "Silk Road Case Began With Hunt for a John Doe" Matthew Goldstein, Mar. 21, 2014

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