BUSINESS

THREE MORE INDICTED IN SILK ROAD BLACK MARKET

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

Three more defendants have been charged in connection with the Internet marketplace known as Silk Road, which prosecutors have described as a vast online black-market bazaar for drugs, guns and other illicit goods.

A federal indictment unsealed in Manhattan on Friday charges Peter Phillip Nash, who is described as the primary moderator on the Silk Road discussion forums, and two other men — Andrew Michael Jones and Gary Davis, who were said to have worked as site administrators.

All three defendants were accused of participating in narcotics-trafficking, computer-hacking and money-laundering conspiracies, according to the indictment, which was filed in U.S. District Court. Lawyers for the three defendants could not immediately be identified.

In October, the office of Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is handling the case, charged Ross William Ulbricht with conspiracy, claiming that he owned and operated the Silk Road website under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts.” Ulbricht is currently being held without bond.

Ulbricht’s lawyer, Joshua L. Dratel, has said that his client denies the charges and that he is not the person prosecutors say is the “Dread Pirate Roberts,” nor does he have anything to do with the site.

The newly unsealed indictment says that during its more than two years of operation, Silk Road was used by several thousand drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute “hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to well over a hundred thousand buyers,” and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars connected to those transactions.

The indictment says the site’s administrators were responsible for monitoring user activity for problems, resolving disputes between buyers and customers and handling customer service inquiries. Forum moderators monitored activity on discussion forums associated with the site.

On those forums, the moderators provided guidance on how to conduct business on Silk Road, reporting any significant problems raised in the forums to the site administrators and Ulbricht, the indictment said.

The indictment alleges that Jones worked as a site administrator for about a year, and Davis for about four months; and that Nash was the forum moderator for about nine months, through October, when the authorities arrested Ulbricht and the site went dark.

The indictment says that site administrators and forum moderators were paid salaries ranging from about $50,000 to $75,000 a year.