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Alleged Silk Road ‘murders-for-hire’ merchant hit with narcotics, money laundering charges

A demonstrator supported Ross Ulbricht, creator and operator of the Silk Road underground market, in front of a federal courthouse on Jan. 13, 2015, in New York City.

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James Ellingson allegedly dealt cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and marijuana on Ross Ulbricht’s Silk Road marketplace, and accepted more than $500,000 worth of bitcoin from Ulbricht to carry out a series of murders which he might not have completed, Manhattan federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Ellingson, who allegedly used the alter egos “redandwhite,” “MarijuanaIsMyMuse” and “Lucydrop” on the marketplace, was charged with narcotics-trafficking conspiracy, narcotics-importation conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Federal prosecutors painted Ellingson, 47, as a man who exaggerated his influence and his abilities, noting that he “claimed to have control over most drug trafficking in Western Canada.” Ellingson first reached out to Ulbricht in 2013 to discuss someone who had threatened to leak drug-trafficker and customer information, the prosecutors said.

“I wouldn’t mind if he was executed,” Ulbricht allegedly wrote to Ellingson. “I would like to put a bounty on his head if it’s not too much trouble for you.”

A “clean” kill would cost Ulbricht “300k+ USD,” Ellingson allegedly wrote in response. “Prices pay for 2 professional hitters including their travel expenses and work they put in.”

Federal prosecutors said there’s no evidence that Ellingson ever carried out the murders Ulbricht allegedly paid him for.

“A thumbnail of a deleted photograph purporting to depict a man lying on a floor in a pool of blood with tape over his mouth was recovered from Ulbricht’s laptop after his arrest,” the prosecutors’ statement noted.

Ulbricht, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2015, has repeatedly insisted that he is innocent. Silk Road was seized and shut down by the FBI in 2013.

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