In the criminal complaint against Ross William Ulbricht, aka “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the 29-year-old San Francisco man accused of running a massive online illegal marketplace called Silk Road, authorities allege that Ulbricht attempted to arrange the murder of a man who had threatened to reveal personal data about Silk Road users. This apparently wasn’t Ulbricht’s first dalliance with assassination; online records indicate that, while arranging the hit, Ulbricht noted that “not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k.”
A new charge against Ulbricht now provides details of that “clean hit,” which, as it turns out, was neither clean nor a hit. An indictment from the U.S. District Court in Maryland alleges that, in January 2013, Ulbricht attempted to arrange the murder of a former employee who had recently been arrested by the feds. Unfortunately for him, the “assassin” he tried to hire was an undercover federal agent.
According to the indictment, Ulbricht sent the agent $40,000 up front; once the hit was “confirmed” by means of an elaborately staged photograph, Ulbricht sent him another $40,000. Ulbricht’s alleged response to the photograph is dripping with irony:
After receiving the photograph, ROSS WILLIAM ULBRICHT, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts,” a/k/a “DPR,” stated that “I’m pissed I had to kill him … but what’s done is done[,]” and that “I just can’t believe he was so stupid[,] … I just wish more people had some integrity[.]”
The incompetence here is staggering. I won’t bother talking about how someone so obviously smart in a technological sense could be so gullible in other regards. But I will offer two pieces of advice that everyone—Internet drug baron or not—would do well to heed. First, a bloody photograph does not count as proof that someone has been killed. Second, if you try to arrange a murder online, you should automatically assume that your contact is an undercover government agent. As such, you should never try to arrange a murder online. It will just end up with you getting arrested, and the entire world laughing at you.
TODAY IN SLATE
Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man
The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.
Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.
Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution
Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show
Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada
Now, journalists can't even say her name.
Lena Dunham, the Book
More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.