Man with Austin ties charged in black market drug scheme

Man with Austin ties charged in black market drug scheme

The FBI says an Austin man created the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the internet today.

Twenty-nine-year-old Westlake graduate Ross Ulbricht is now in federal custody charged with narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

For two years, the FBI worked to unravel the global narcotics trafficking site Silk Road. 

Investigators described it as a "black market bazaar." It allowed users to buy a variety of illegal drugs, fake I.D.s and computer-hacking services with the hard-to-trace internet currency bitcoins.

Revenue for the site is estimated at $1.2 billion.

When users attempt to log onto the site now, they are met with this seal showing seizure by the U.S. government.

Investigators say the creator of the site is 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht aka "Dread Pirate Roberts," "DPR" and "Silk Road."

According to the federal complaint, Ulbricht sought criminal means to protect his clients. Investigators say he paid $150,000 in a murder-for hire scheme to off a person threatening to reveal his customers' identities.

Ulbricht was arrested in California Tuesday, but his roots are here in Austin. He graduated from Westlake High School.

He lists a Tarrytown address on his driver's license. Neighbor Gari Lanier Wier says she's never seen him there.

"It's crazy I can't believe it," said neighbor Gari Lanier Wier. "I've lived here for 21 years and I know every neighbor. It's the wrong address."

Ulbricht's parents list their address in South Austin. When we went to the door a woman told us no comment and asked us to leave.

Other neighbors were willing to talk.

"Shocks me. You just don't think of anything like that happening in your neighborhood. I'm shocked," said Elaine O'Brien.

Ulbricht lists his occupation on his linked in account as investment adviser and entrepreneur with degrees from UT Dallas and Penn State.

It says he studied physics and worked as a research scientist with a goal to expand the frontier of human knowledge.

He will now be remembered for something far more sinister.

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