Silk Road Vendor and Murder-for-Hire Orchestrator Charged

~2 min read | Published on 2023-05-13, tagged ArrestedCryptocurrencyIndicted using 475 words.

A recently unsealed indictment charges a Canadian man accused of distributing large quantities of a variety of drugs and planning the murder of five individuals on behalf of Silk Road's founder and admin, Ross Ulbricht.

According to court documents, 47-year-old James Ellingson of Vancouver, Canada, sold large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana through Silk Road under the usernames "MarijuanaIsMyMuse" and "Lucydrop", from at least November 2011 to September 2013. Under the username "redandwhite", Ellingson claimed he would hire hitmen for Ulbricht.
According to the three-count indictment, the MarijuanaIsMyMuse vendor account was created in November 2011. Data recovered from Silk Road servers revealed that the vendor account sold more than four kilograms of methamphetamine; more than 100 grams of heroin; more than two kilograms of cocaine; approximately one and a half grams of LSD; approximately 7 kilograms of MDMA, and more than 19 kilograms of marijuana.
Blockchain analysis revealed that bitcoin withdrawn from the MarijuanaIsMyMuse vendor account ended up in Bitstamp and Cavirtex accounts registered to Ellingson.
The investigators executed a search warrant for the email associated with the accounts and found out that Ellingson had used it to save the username and password of MarijuanaIsMyMuse. They also recovered emails with drug weights, names, and their respective prices.
The Lucydrop account was created in April 2012 and reportedly sold drugs worth a total of $285,000 by March 2013.
In March 2013 Lucydrop was contacted by a user under the moniker "FriendlyChemist." FriendlyChemist wanted Lucydrop and Ulbricht to honor their agreement and pay him for supplying Lucydrop with drugs to sell on SilkRoad.
A few days later FriendlyChemist contacted Ulbricht and threatened to leak the identities of some Silkroad vendors and buyers if he was not paid.
In late March 2013, redandwhite contacted Ulbricht and claimed he was FriendlyChemist's supplier and that FriendlyChemist owed him money. Ulbricht and redandwhite then started discussing a murder-for-hire plot against FriendlyChemist.
Ulbricht sent redandwhite $150,000 in Bitcoin as payment for the murder of FriendlyChemist. In early April 2013, redandwhite told Ulbricht FriendlyChemist had been murdered and sent a picture as proof of the murder.
Later that month redandwhite claimed he had overseen the murder of four individuals linked to FriendlyChemist after receiving $500,000 for the murders from Ulbricht.
In September 2013 Ulbricht loaned redandwhite over $500,000 in bitcoin. Ulbricht told redandwhite he would send someone to collect the loan's collateral and asked redandwhite to send a picture of himself to verify his identity. The photograph was recovered from Ulbricht's Laptop and shows Ellingson standing in front of a building.
Ellingson's identity was confirmed by a photograph acquired from Canadian law enforcement and the driver's license photograph he used to verify his Bitstamp and Cavirtex accounts.
Canadian authorities arrested Ellingson in October 2018. The indictment against him was unsealed on May 11, 2023. It charges him with one count each of conspiring in drug trafficking, drug importation, and money laundering.