From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore:
U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced a former drug vendor on the Silk Road website, Jacob Theodore George IV, age 33, of Edgewood, Maryland, today to six years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute drugs, including heroin.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Postal Inspector in Charge Gary R. Barksdale of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
“Today’s sentencing again underscores HSI’s commitment to continue working with our domestic and international law enforcement partners to identify and arrest individuals who are conducting criminal activities by using networks and digital currency designed to provide anonymity, such as Tor and bitcoins,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge William Winter, quoting a post on the Bitcoin Evolution. “International drug traffickers are on notice that this illegal trade will not be tolerated.”
“Mr. George believed that he could operate with impunity on the Internet, providing a “service” to drug users and drug dealers alike. In doing so, he increased his trafficking network in the Baltimore area. Internet usage exists is in every home in the United States: our children communicate with their friends, work on school projects. Parents trust that their children are engaged in these activities safely in their homes. I am proud to say with the joint efforts between DEA and our law enforcement partners, Mr. George will no longer have access to this expansive illicit marketplace on the Internet.”
According to his plea agreement, from at least November 2011 to January 18, 2012, George sold drugs via Silk Road. George made contact with buyers via Silk Road, accepted payment electronically through Silk Road using bitcoin, a digital currency, and shipped drugs via the United States Postal Service to buyers throughout the United States and in foreign countries. The owner and operator of Silk Road, alleged to be Ross William Ulbricht, collected a fee for each transaction on the website. George acquired drugs from two primary sources: he purchased some drugs, including heroin, from drug dealers in the Baltimore metropolitan area; and he purchased synthetic drugs, including methylone, from suppliers in China and had those drugs shipped to him. In one of the first seizures of its kind, federal agents also seized bitcoin used by George to buy and sell drugs on the Silk Road website.
Ross Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts,” a/k/a “DPR,” age 30, of San Francisco, California, has been indicted in Maryland and in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on charges related to his alleged operation of the Silk Road website. Ulbricht is scheduled for trial in New York on November 3, 2014. No court appearance in Maryland has been scheduled. An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised HSI Baltimore, DEA, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation. U.S. Attorney Rosenstein recognized U.S. Attorneys Preet Bharara and Zach Fardon of the Southern District of New York and the Northern District of Illinois, respectively, and their offices; the FBI; and Senior Trial Counsel James Silver of the U.S. Department of Justice Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section for their assistance in the case. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Justin S. Herring, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.