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How An Unbelievable Hitman Conspiracy Helped Shut Down The Internet's Biggest Black Market

Founder Ross William Ulbricht is accused, among other things, of putting out a $150,000 hit on a Silk Road user. The FBI today shuttered Silk Road, a multibillion-dollar black market of drugs and other contraband, charging its proprietor with trafficking and conspiracy.

Posted on October 2, 2013, at 1:02 p.m. ET

Ulbricht's LinkedIn profile

Buried in the laundry list of charges against Silk Road owner Ross William Ulbricht is an astonishing murder-for-hire conspiracy. It reads like plot synopsis straight out of Breaking Bad.

According to the complaint, communciations seized from Ulbricht — who goes by Dread Pirate Roberts or DPR — revealed that Ulbricht ordered a hit on a user in late March 2013. The user, FriendlyChemist, attempted to extort money from Ulbricht, prompting the following events, which are laid out in astounding detail in the complaint:

FriendlyChemist threatened to expose the real names and addresses of Silk Road users and vendors if Ulbricht refused to pay off FriendlyChemist's $500,000 drug debt.

Ulbricht, identified here as DPR, asked FriendlyChemist to put him in touch with his dealer and eventually tried to solicit the dealer (redandwhite) to become a Silk Road vendor.

Not having heard from DPR, FriendlyChemist threatened that he would reveal the Silk Road users and vendors to the public in 72 hours. That's when DPR solicited redandwhite's help for a possible hit.

Ulbricht's request for a bounty on FriendlyChemist, below. "It doesn't have to be clean," Ulbricht told redandwhite.

A negotiation over price ensues. redandwhite quotes a hit between $150,000 and $300,000. Ulbricht notes he's had a "clean hit done for $80k" in the past.

Ulbricht and redandwhite settled on a price of 1,670 BTC (roughly $150,000 USD). One day later, redandwhite confirmed the hit, sending a picture to Ulbricht.

But according to law enforcement officials, it seems Ulbricht was fooled. There is, according to the report, no Canadian resident matching FriendlyChemist's name and description and no record of a homicide at the time of the request.

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