Dutch Man To Plead Guilty To Selling Illegal Drugs For Bitcoins Worth Millions On Shuttered Silk Road Website
CHICAGO — A Dutch man who allegedly used the shuttered Silk Road underground website to sell illegal drugs for bitcoins worth millions of dollars has agreed to plead guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge filed against him today. The defendant, CORNELIS JAN SLOMP, through his attorney, authorized the government to disclose that he will plead guilty to conspiracy to import and distribute various controlled substances when he is arraigned on the charge that was brought in a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court.
Slomp, also known as “SuperTrips,” 22, of Woerden, the Netherlands, was charged following an undercover investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
He was charged with distributing worldwide approximately 104 kilograms of powder 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, also known as MDMA; 566,000 ecstasy pills containing MDMA; four kilograms of cocaine; three kilograms of Benzodiazepine; and substantial quantities of amphetamine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and marijuana, in addition to allowing substantial quantities of methamphetamine, ketamine, and Xanax to be distributed through his SuperTrips vendor account from March 2012 through August 2013.
Slomp was arrested on Aug. 27, 2013, at the Miami International Airport where he arrived on a flight from Europe. Court documents allege that Slomp was intending to meet with alleged co-conspirators in Florida and to spin-off his entire U.S. Silk Road operations and customers to one of his co-conspirators, as well as to retrieve from that individual Slomp’s share of the illegal drug proceeds that the individual generated as Slomp’s largest wholesale re-distributor in the U.S. of fronted illegal drugs.
Slomp was arrested based on a warrant and criminal complaint filed in Federal Court in Chicago and, after he was transferred here to face prosecution, he did not contest detention and was ordered to remain in federal custody.
Upon conviction, he faces a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine, and the Court must impose a reasonable sentence. The government is also seeking forfeiture of approximately $3,030,000 in alleged proceeds from Slomps’ drug trafficking. The government seized the equivalent of that amount in bitcoins, a digital currency, and exchanged it for cash.
“Illegal drug-trafficking is not new but drug-trafficking using a sophisticated underground computer network designed to protect anonymity of buyers and sellers presents new challenges to law enforcement that we are prepared to meet,” said Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
“In the global black market for all things illegal, Slomp allegedly was a prolific vendor on Silk Road,” said Gary Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI in Chicago. “HSI will remain vigilant against criminals who traffic contraband and illicit goods across our nation’s borders. Those who mistakenly believe the anonymity of the Internet ― even on the Deep Web ― shields them from scrutiny are finding out they can’t evade detection in cyberspace.”
Messrs. Fardon and Hartwig commended U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents in Chicago for their assistance in the investigation. The HSI office in Miami, the HSI Attaché Office in The Hague, and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance with this case.
According to court documents, Slomp used Silk Road to sell illegal drugs and received approximately 385,000 in bitcoins from more than 10,000 transactions as payment. From January 2011 until it was shut down by law enforcement in October 2013, Silk Road allowed vendors and buyers to exchange goods and services online. It was dedicated to the sale of illegal drugs and other illicit, black market goods using bitcoins and was designed to facilitate illegal commerce by ensuring anonymity among its users. The underground website operated on a special worldwide network of computers that concealed the true Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the users. Each communication, wrapped in a layer of encryption, bounced through numerous relays within the network so the end recipient had no way of tracing the communication back to its true originating IP address.
During the undercover investigation, HSI agents surreptitiously entered the website and observed a vendor who had offered various controlled substances for sale for about 18 months. In April 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport seized an envelope mailed from the Netherlands that tested positive for MDMA concealed inside an empty DVD case. During the investigation, agents collected more than 100 similar envelopes in Chicago, each mailed from the Netherlands or Germany, containing various controlled substances. The investigation resulted in identifying Slomp as the alleged Silk Road vendor who was responsible for mailing the envelopes seized in Chicago.
The charge describes 11 unnamed co-conspirators in Europe and the U.S. who allegedly assisted Slomp in supplying, manufacturing, selling, packaging, shipping, and distributing various illegal drugs. Two of these individuals in the Netherlands allegedly manufactured hundreds of thousands of ecstasy pills of different colors, most of which bore a question mark, which was Slomp’s unique identifying logo.
In August 2012, Slomp and Individual J in Florida allegedly agreed that Slomp would front wholesale quantities of illegal drugs on credit and they would divide the proceeds in half after Individual J resold the drugs to Silk Road customers under the vendor names “UnderGroundSyndicate” and “BTCMaster.” Slomp allegedly imported a half-kilogram of fronted MDMA every week for a year to Individual J, as well as substantial quantities of other illegal drugs.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Boutros.
The public is reminded that an information contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.