Silk Road’s Alleged Hitman Arrested in Canada

Blue light flasher atop of a police car. City lights on the background.
A former Silk Road vendor was arrested in Vancouver under suspicion that he worked for the market’s founder as a hitman.

The latest character to be thrust into the seemingly never-ending Silk Road saga is one James Ellingson. Ellingson fits the profile of your run-of-the-mill drug vendor. He has a criminal record that precedes his time on the now-defunct Silk Road where he allegedly racked up $2 million selling drugs.

The 42-year-old is perhaps more suitably introduced as a hitman that was allegedly sought out by Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht during his tenure at the helm of the drug-fueled market where he was known as the one and only “Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR).”

Alleged Hitman Used the Alias ‘Redandwhite’

Canadian authorities arrested Ellingson in Vancouver nearly a month ago after investigations led them to believe that he was the man behind the darknet handle “redandwhite.”

Although his arrest had been in the works since January this year following a warrant issued by a New York federal magistrate judge, the 42-year-old former Silk Road vendor and purported hitman managed to make bail in a British Columbia court, thwarting the authorities’ efforts to keep him locked up.

A Hand out to send money to buy the drugs and dealer drugs man send big pack of cocaine, and many banknote and drugs on wooden table, dark vintage style,substance addiction and abuse concept
This lends to the belief that redandwhite could be one of two things: a drug dealer who also carried out occasional hits, or a drug dealer who also carried out occasional scams.

Despite evidence from the 2015 Ross Ulbricht trial suggesting that redandwhite and Ulbricht had plotted to carry out a murder within the first week after they started communicating, no records of an actual murder occurring during that time frame were ever brought forth.

This lends to the belief that redandwhite could be one of two things: a drug dealer who also carried out occasional hits, or a drug dealer who also carried out occasional scams.

Origins of Ellingson’s Involvement

Ellingson came into the picture in March 2013 after a feud between two Silk Road users, FriendlyChemist and LucyDrop, devolved to a point where the identities of 24 Silk Road vendors, including nine high-profile ones, were under threat of exposure. FriendlyChemist wanted to blackmail DPR, leveraging the real identities of several vendors as well as thousands of customers as a means to get what he wanted.

Things escalated quickly from here. First, the LucyDrop account became inactive, but was soon replaced by another account by the name RealLucyDrop, which claimed that FriendlyChemist had betrayed them and led to their arrest. DPR, determined not to be strong-armed into handing out his money, tried to convince RealLucyDrop to hand over FriendlyChemist’s real identity, but instead, he was later contacted by redandwhite, who introduced himself as part of the group that FriendlyChemist owed.

If the username didn’t clue you in, redandwhite claimed to be part of a drug ring / motorcycle gang known as Hells Angels, an outfit that controlled the movement of illicit substances in a large portion of western Canada. Red and white are the gang’s colors.

Hell's Angels and the Red Devils drinking together at the Royal Standard pub. Motorcycles are parked everywhere
If the username didn’t clue you in, redandwhite claimed to be part of a drug ring / motorcycle gang known as Hells Angels, an outfit that controlled the movement of illicit substances in a large portion of western Canada. Red and white are the gang’s colors.

DPR initially saw the chance to recruit redandwhite to be one of the vendors on his thriving market, but soon got down to business on how the FriendlyChemist issue could be handled with the least amount of commotion. He offered to put a bounty on his head on March 29 that same year. The hitman allegedly sent photo evidence of the murder a few days later after he and DPR had agreed on a price.

Ellingson’s story got even more complicated when police linked him to another drug vendor’s account named Marijuanaismymuse. As it stands, British Columbia Judge Justice DeWitt-Van Oosten believes that other people could be behind the Marijuanaismymuse account.

Already, court documents have placed a man known only by the initials D.A.L. behind the Marijuanaismymuse account, who was slapped with a civil forfeiture claim worth $1.4 million earlier this year by British Columbia authorities.

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Petition to Free Ross Ulbricht Reaches a Milestone of 100,000 Signatures

Man signing a petition
A petition to pardon Ross Ulbricht reached 100,000 signatures in just a matter of months, birthing new hope that the Silk Road founder might be freed.

Since his incarceration, support for Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht has grown tenfold due to the efforts of his family, who work to defend what they believe is a wrongly imprisoned man.

Organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance, Downsize DC Foundation, National Lawyers Guild, Reason Foundation and the National Lawyers Guild stand behind Ulbricht’s family in supporting their case.

After a failed appeal earlier this year, a petition to have Ulbricht pardoned by U.S. President Donald Trump was launched on Change.org, and in a matter of months, the number of signatures grew exponentially.

On Thursday, the petition finally came to pass the 100,000 signature mark, despite the fact that 50,000 was the initial target as support for Ulbricht grows.

Silk Road Case and Subsequent Conviction

Ulbricht was perhaps first known to the world as “Dread Pirate Roberts” when he ran the underground marketplace on the dark web known as Silk Road. The website allowed transactions of all kinds, even those that were illegal in nature, to happen under the mask of anonymity provided by the network encryption software Tor.

Silk Road operated for just under two years, during which Ulbricht amassed an estimated $28.5 million through transaction and service fees for the users of his platform, who paid for goods such as guns and drugs in Bitcoin.

One hand passes bitcoin and the other hand passes the drug package.
Silk Road operated for just under two years, during which Ulbricht amassed an estimated $28.5 million through transaction and service fees for the users of his platform, who paid for goods such as guns and drugs in Bitcoin.

His subsequent arrest in October of 2013 led to one of the most controversial cases of the century. Ulbricht faced charges of procuring murder, conspiring to sell narcotics, money laundering and computer hacking. Though the murder charge was ultimately dropped from his indictment, the evidence was still presented in court, and Judge Katherine Forrest pulled all the stops to ensure Ulbricht got the maximum sentence possible—two terms of life imprisonment without the possibility parole.

The Free Ross Movement

Ulbricht’s story is one that has been reiterated many times over, sometimes with emphasis laid upon the unquestionable injustice that followed his arrest, and other times with the hope that he will soon see the light of day.

At the moment, Ulbricht is serving his sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Florence High, where he has spent the last few years of his life trying to find a way out. Unlike many other convicted criminals serving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, Ulbricht wasn’t involved in a violent crime, nor was he a threat to national security.

However, his appeals for a retrial have been turned down by the U.S. Court of Appeals even with the availability of damning evidence against the investigators that oversaw his case.

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on a sunny fall day in Washington, D.C
However, his appeals for a retrial have been turned down by the U.S. Court of Appeals even with the availability of damning evidence against the investigators that oversaw his case.

Despite outrage from all corners of the internet, the 34-year-old is left with no choice but to hope for a presidential pardon, which, according to recent developments, just might be within reach.

Support Continues

With the aid of his family, Ulbricht is now able to maintain a live Twitter account which became active earlier this year. He keeps his many followers updated via his mother and his friends, courtesy of the customary phone calls he’s allowed to make from prison.

Support for Ulbricht has been in endless supply, with big names like John McAfee writing on his blog about the imperative for privacy and how Ulbricht’s was wrongfully treated during the investigations. Among the parties responsible for this milestone is The Libertarian Party, which has been a vocal supporter of the Free Ross campaign since the start.

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