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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.

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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:


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.


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.

Charlie Warzel is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Warzel reports on and writes about the intersection of tech and culture.

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