09-25-2022  11:32 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NORTHWEST NEWS

After a Rocky Start Oregon Drug Decriminalization Eyes Progress

When voters passed the state's pioneering Drug Addiction Treatment andRecovery Act in 2020, the emphasis was on treatment as much as on decriminalizing possession of personal-use amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs. But progress has been slow and Oregon still has among the highest addiction rates in the country yet over half of addiction treatment programs in the state don't have enough staffing and funding to help those who want help

Portland, Oregon, to Use Microphones to Track Gunshots

The decision to advance a pilot program with ShotSpotter was made after Wheeler met with Police Chief Chuck Lovell.

Oregon Students' Math, Reading Skills Plummet Post-Pandemic

The tests administered last spring were the first reliable comparison to pre-pandemic testing done in 2019.

Faith Community, Activists Introduce ‘Evidence-Based’ Gun Control Measure to Ballot

Proposed law would require permits to purchase, limit magazine rounds.

NEWS BRIEFS

Rep. Janelle Bynum Champions Oregon Business and Sets Sights on Strengthening Key Industries

Rep. Bynum invited leaders and experts to discuss ways the state can champion businesses of all sizes, expand broadband, bolster the...

PPS Renames Headquarters

The central office will be named after Matthew Prophet, Portland Public School's first Black Superintendent from 1982-1992,...

Affordable Housing Plan to Go Before Seattle Voters

If I-135 passes it would create a public development authority ...

Merkley, Wyden: Over $3.2 Million in Federal Funds to Address Domestic Violence and Expand Services for Survivors 

The awful threat of domestic violence undermines the safety of far too many households and communities in Oregon and nationwide ...

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Announces Partnership to Advance Genomics Research at the Nation's Four Historically Black Medical Colleges

New partnership with Charles Drew University College of Medicine, Howard University College of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, and...

Police: Man dead in shooting outside Portland hotel

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man was killed in a shooting outside a hotel in Portland early Sunday, police said. No arrests were immediately made in the shooting, which was reported at around 3:30 a.m. The shooting in the northeast part of the city took place a few blocks...

After rocky start, hopes up in Oregon drug decriminalization

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Two years after Oregon residents voted to decriminalize hard drugs and dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars to treatment, few people have requested the services and the state has been slow to channel the funds. When voters passed the state's pioneering Drug...

LSU survives Daniels' injury scare in romp over New Mexico

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The LSU defense held New Mexico to 88 total yards and the Tigers survived an injury scare to starting quarterback Jayden Daniels in a 38-0 victory Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. “Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a habit,” LSU...

Bridges' OT fumble recovery seals Auburn's win over Missouri

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Cayden Bridges recovered a fumble in the end zone to give Auburn a 17-14 overtime victory over Missouri in an SEC opener on Saturday. Missouri (2-2) running back Nathaniel Peat dropped the football before a potential game-winning touchdown, and Bridges landed on...

OPINION

The Cruelty of Exploiting Vulnerable People for Political Advantage

There is always a new low for Trump Republicans. And that is pretty frightening. ...

The Military to American Youth: You Belong to Me

The U.S. military needs more than just money in its annual budget. It needs access to America’s young people as well — their wallets, their bodies, and their minds. ...

Financial Fairness at Risk With Proposed TD Bank-First Horizon Merger

As banks grow larger through mergers and focus on growing online and mobile services, serious concerns emerge on how fair and how accessible banking will be to traditionally underserved Black and Latino communities. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Democrats in Florida seek to win over Latinos on gun control

MIAMI (AP) — Annette Taddeo walked to a podium overlooking Miami’s Biscayne Bay and described to her audience how she had fled terrorism as a teenager in Colombia and now feared for the safety of her 16-year-old daughter at an American public school. A blue and bright orange bus...

Biden administration launches environmental justice office

WARRENTON, N.C. (AP) — President Joe Biden’s top environment official visited what is widely considered the birthplace of the environmental justice movement Saturday to unveil a national office that will distribute billion in block grants to underserved communities burdened by pollution. ...

Ex-Nevada deputy attorney general indicted on murder charge

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii grand jury on Friday indicted a former deputy Nevada attorney general on charges of second-degree murder in connection with the 50-year-old cold case of a Honolulu woman killed in 1972. Tudor Chirila, 77, is in custody in Reno, Nevada, where he is fighting...

ENTERTAINMENT

New Mexico allows funds for prosecutions in 'Rust' shooting

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has granted funds to pay for possible prosecutions connected to last year's fatal film-set shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Thursday. The state Board of Finance greenlit more than 7,000 to...

Ari Lennox's 'age/sex/location' revels in infatuation

NEW YORK (AP) — Writer’s block confined Ari Lennox during the creation of her latest album, “age/sex/location,” but her label head and friend, rap superstar J. Cole, suggested she begin journaling to unlock her creativity. “He was like, ‘I just want you to write and just...

Early Streisand nightclub recording remastered for release

NEW YORK (AP) — A series of 1962 performances by Barbra Streisand at a Manhattan nightclub before she became a superstar have been remastered and will be released this fall. “Barbra Streisand — Live at the Bon Soir” features songs from a three night stint at the Bon Soir...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Bills would curtail objections at future Jan. 6 counts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress have officially objected to the results in four of the last six...

Japanese leader's trip to China in '72 was diplomatic gamble

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese leader who normalized relations with China 50 years ago feared for his life when he...

False claims, threats fuel poll worker sign-ups for midterms

ATLANTA (AP) — Outraged by false allegations of fraud against a Georgia elections employee in 2020, Amanda...

Iran summons UK envoy amid anti-government protests

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday it summoned Britain's ambassador to...

Canada struggles to restore power after storm; body found

TORONTO (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remained without power Sunday and officials...

Cuba prepares evacuations as strengthening TS Ian nears

HAVANA (AP) — Authorities in Cuba suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and said they will begin...

By Tim Hume CNN







The FBI caught the man accused of creating Silk Road -- the shadowy e-commerce site it describes as "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today" -- after he allegedly posted his Gmail address online, according to court documents.

Federal agents swooped on Ross William Ulbricht in a San Francisco public library Tuesday afternoon, charging the 29-year-old American with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. They allege he is "the Dread Pirate Roberts," the Silk Road's mysterious founder, who drew his pseudonym from the feared, fictitious character in the film The Princess Bride.

The FBI claims the former physics and engineering student even publicly alluded to his alleged criminal enterprise on his LinkedIn profile, with a statement describing how his goals had "shifted" in accordance with his libertarian economic views since leaving grad school at Pennsylvania State University.

Ulbricht's LinkedIn profile states that, since completing his studies in 2010, he has focused on "creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force" of the kind imposed by "institutions and governments."

"I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression (sic) amongst mankind," he wrote.

In the indictment against Ulbricht, filed in a New York court, the FBI cyber-crime specialist who led the investigation, Christopher Tarbell, stated that he believed "that this 'economic simulation' referred to by Ulbricht is Silk Road."

The Amazon.com of vice

The FBI swiftly shuttered the site, an underground digital marketplace that, since its inception in 2011, has allowed users to anonymously trade illegal goods and services in near total secrecy, using the digital currency bitcoin, and an encryption network called Tor that routes traffic through a "hidden" area of the Internet known as "the dark web."

Tarbell said the site "sought to make conducting illegal transactions on the Internet as easy and frictionless as shopping online at mainstream e-commerce websites," and carried listings for hard drugs, hackers, counterfeit cash, forged ID documents, firearms, ammunition, even hitmen -- one of whom Ulbricht is alleged to have enlisted to kill a blackmailer.

According to the indictment, Silk Road had acquired nearly a million registered users worldwide -- about 30% of whom were based in the U.S. -- in its two and a half years of operation, providing them guidance on how to encrypt their communications and vacuum-pack their wares before shipping through the postal service to avoid detection by law enforcement. Last year, it said, the site added a "stealth mode" for users who considered themselves "at risk of becoming a target for law enforcement."

The indictment said the site had generated over 9.5 million bitcoins in sales revenue and over 600,000 bitcoins in commissions for its owner, allowing the site to employ a team of administrators. The value of bitcoins has fluctuated dramatically since the digital currency was created -- it plummeted after Ulbricht's arrest -- but Tarbell estimated Silk Road's turnover to be worth about $1.2 billion in sales, and $80 million in commissions.

In February, an Australian drug dealer became the first person to be convicted in connection to Silk Road after using the site to import cocaine and MDMA from Europe.

Catching the Dread Pirate Roberts

In the section of the indictment outlining how the link between Ulbricht and Dread Pirate Roberts was established, Tarbell detailed how an FBI expert codenamed Agent-1 had located an early online mention of Silk Road dating to January 27, 2011, when a user under the handle "Altoid" made a post on a forum for users of magic mushrooms.

"I came across this website called Silk Road," wrote Altoid, in a post which linked to the site. "I'm thinking of buying off it... Let me know what you think."

Two days later, someone using the handle "Altoid" made a similar post on a forum called Bitcoin Talk, recommending Silk Road and providing a link. "Has anyone seen Silk Road yet? It's kind of like an anonymous Amazon.com. I don't think they have heroin on there, but they are selling other stuff," it read.

The posts, said Tarbell, were an attempt to drum up interest in Silk Road, employing the online marketing tactic of "astroturfing."

Investigators were given a major break when, eight months later, "Altoid" made another posting on Bitcoin Talk, stating he was looking for "an IT pro in the Bitcoin community" to hire in connection with "a venture backed Bitcoin startup company." The posting asked interested parties to contact rossulbricht@gmail.com.

The indictment also noted that Ulbricht and Dread Pirate Roberts were both vocal adherents of the libertarian theories of Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises, with Ulbricht's public Google+ account linking to YouTube videos posted by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and Dread Pirate Roberts repeatedly crediting von Mises with "providing the philosophical underpinnings for Silk Road."

From a San Francisco Internet cafe

Tarbell said that while Dread Pirate Roberts used a "virtual private network," or VPN, to create a "false" IP address, the VPN server's records indicated a user had accessed it from a San Francisco Internet café near the home of a friend Ulbricht had gone to live with around September last year.

Records obtained from Google showed Ulbricht had regularly logged into his Gmail account from the Internet café, he said -- including on the same day in June that the VPN was accessed.

In July, Ulbricht was visited in San Francisco by Homeland Security agents who had intercepted a package from Canada containing fake ID documents in nine different names, each bearing a photograph of Ulbricht.

According to the indictment, Ulbricht -- whose roommates knew him as "Josh," and said he was always at home on his computer -- refused to answer questions about the IDs, but told the agents that "hypothetically" anyone could go on the Silk Road and purchase them.

In the weeks prior to the encounter, said Tarbell, Dread Pirate Roberts had been inquiring with Silk Road users about buying fake IDs, saying he needed them in order to rent extra servers for the site.

A killing for hire?

It was not the only time Ulbricht is alleged to have used the site to procure illegal services. Tarbell claimed that in March, Dread Pirate Roberts solicited the killing of a Silk Road user who was attempting to blackmail him by threatening to release the identities of thousands of users of the site.

The FBI alleges that the Canada-based extortionist, known as FriendlyChemist, demanded $500,000 to prevent the release of the information, prompting Dread Pirate Roberts to contact another user and order a hit on FriendlyChemist.

"In my eyes, FriendlyChemist is a liability and I wouldn't mind if he was executed," he is alleged to have written, before attempting to haggle down the price. "Don't want to be a pain here, but the price seems high. Not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k."

The FBI claims the hitman later sent a picture of the victim after the job was done -- for approximately $150,000 in bitcoins -- although Tarbell said Canadian authorities had no record of a Canadian resident with the name passed to the alleged hitman, nor any record of a homicide around that location and time.

Ulbricht's lawyer, Brandon Leblanc, declined to comment on the case.

Silk Road's closure is unlikely to bring an end to the trade of illegal goods on the "dark web," as similar sites operate on the Tor network.

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events