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Intellectual Property Rights
02/21/2014

Charges filed against vendor for selling drugs and guns on Silk Road website

BALTIMORE — A Lincoln, Neb., man was charged Thursday with selling drugs, guns and counterfeit currency on an online site known as Silk Road, following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore.

Sheldon Kennedy, 26, was arrested this week in Miami for his role in selling 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. The Baltimore Silk Road Task Force was created to address the contraband being sold on Silk Road.

In January 2012, a U.S. Postal Service 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. HSI special 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.

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.

Kennedy faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic controlled substances, and five years in prison for each charge of possessing 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 Silk Road cases, Curtis Green, aka "Flush," and "chronicpain," 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, 32, of Edgewood, Md., 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.

Ross Ulbricht, aka "Dread Pirate Roberts," aka "DPR," 29, of San Francisco, 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 Ulbricht who collected a fee for each transaction on the website. Ulbricht 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.

Ulbricht also faces a related indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The Baltimore Silk Road Task Force is led by HSI Baltimore and includes Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Washington Division; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Baltimore Field Division; the U.S. Secret Service Baltimore Field Office; and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington.