Baltimore, Maryland – Sheldon Kennedy, age 26, of Lincoln, Nebraska was charged by complaint on charges arising from the sale of drugs, guns and counterfeit currency on an online site known as Silk Road. The complaint was filed on January 31, 2014 and unsealed today after his arrest yesterday in Miami, Florida.
The complaint 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 Steven L. Gerido of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field 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.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint and court documents, an online, international marketplace known as Silk Road, operated from January 2011 through September 2013. Silk Road allowed users to anonymously buy and sell illegal drugs, false identifications, counterfeit currency, guns and other contraband over the Internet. In September 2011, HSI Baltimore special agents initiated an investigation into the Silk Road website. Thereafter, the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force was created to address the contraband being sold on Silk Road.
The complaint alleges that on January 6, 2012, a USPS express mail package from China was opened in San Francisco pursuant to a border search. The package was being sent to Kennedy in Nebraska and was found to contain 55 grams of 4-fluoroamphetamine, a psychoactive drug and research chemical similar to MDMA, also known as ecstasy. Agents began investigating Kennedy. Thereafter, undercover agents in Baltimore bought contraband from Kennedy on Silk Road, who used aliases to sell cocaine and a pistol. Further investigation revealed that Kennedy was not licensed to sell firearms.
According to the complaint, Kennedy also sold counterfeit currency to another individual in Maryland on Silk Road. And in May 2012, agents intercepted a package Kennedy mailed to an individual in England. The package was found to contain 110 grams of DMT, a controlled substance. Kennedy also posted pictures online, such as on Facebook and Google+, of firearms, firearm accessories and large amounts of U.S. currency, which he advertised for sale.
On June 28, 2013, a search warrant was executed at Kennedy’s home. Ten firearms were seized, along with ammunition and illegal drugs.
A complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
Kennedy faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic controlled substances; and five years in prison each for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, interstate sale or transfer of a firearm without a license to another unlicensed person and conspiracy to pass counterfeit money.
In related cases, Curtis Green, a/k/a “Flush,” and “chronicpain,” age 47, of Utah, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with attempt to distribute cocaine. Green admitted to being an administrator of the Silk Road website. Jacob Theodore George IV, age 32, of Edgewood, Maryland, also previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute drugs, including heroin. George admitted to selling drugs on Silk Road. Green faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and George faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled sentencing for Green on July 11, 2014. No sentencing date is scheduled for George.
Ross Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts,” a/k/a “DPR,” age 29, of San Francisco, California, has been indicted in Maryland on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, attempted witness murder and using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. Silk Road was allegedly created and operated by Ross Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts,” who collected a fee for each transaction on the website. Ulbrecht faces a maximum of 40 years in prison for the drug distribution conspiracy; a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for attempted witness murder; and a maximum of 10 years in prison for using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. No court appearance in Maryland has been scheduled.
Ulbricht faces a related indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 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, ATF, 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 Gary S. Shapiro 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 is prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.