Since his arrest in 2013, Ross Ulbricht has remained the chief suspect behind the Silk Road, a sweeping and sophisticated online drug market. But today in court, his defense dropped a shocker: they claimed the market's actual kingpin was Mark Karpeles, who is infamous for running the world's biggest bitcoin operation into the ground before he turned 29.
"We have the name of the real mastermind and it's not Ulbricht," Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht's lawyer, said in court today. He plans to argue that Karpeles framed Ulbricht.
"[Silk Road] would be a device for leveraging the value of Bitcoin, and if he could create a site independent of Bitcoin, you could control the value of Bitcoin," Dratel said, reading from [DHS Agent Jared] DerYeghiayan's emails.
DerYeghiayan believed his evidence was so strong that he even drafted a search warrant for Karpeles's email in May of 2013.
This allegation is the second enormous controversy that the Japan-based Karpeles has been recently embroiled in; just last year, he confessed to losing a small fortune in bitcoin after mismanaging (or defrauding) the notorious Mt. Gox exchange into oblivion. To be caught in an underground global drug conspiracy on top of losing a lot of money that wasn't his would be a twist pulled from a Michael Mann picture. Maybe.
The crux of Ulbircht's defense --who was the real DPR?--has finally been unveiled. Ulbricht let out a rare smile when it finally happened.
— Patrick O'Neill (@HowellONeill) January 15, 2015
I don't buy it. If Mt. Gox's CEO was the one running Silk Road it would have imploded spectacularly about one month after it launched.
— Adrian Chen (@AdrianChen) January 15, 2015
@AdrianChen this is going to make a terrible movie.
— d a banks (@DA_Banks) January 15, 2015