NEW YORK, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A federal grand jury in New York indicted the owner-operator of the Silk Road website where users allegedly bought and sold illegal drugs with virtual money.
The indictment returned Tuesday also claimed Ross William Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, solicited a murder for hire, Courthouse News service reported. Ulbricht was not charged with murder.
Ulbricht created and ran Silk Road from January 2011 until it was law enforcement officials shut it down in October.
"During that time, Silk Road emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet," the indictment said in describing a narcotics trafficking conspiracy charge.
"The website was used by several thousand drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to well over 100,000 buyers worldwide, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars deriving from these unlawful transactions," the four-count indictment read.
Ulbricht also was charged with running a continuing criminal enterprise, conspired to launder money and conspired to hack computers.
Ulbricht, in federal custody in New York, designed Silk Road to "include a Bitcoin-based payment system," so the identities and locations of its users would be hidden, the indictment said.
The murder-for-hire allegation was included under an "Overt Acts" section of the indictment, Courthouse News said. Ulbricht earlier was indicted in Maryland on the murder-for-hire allegation.
"On or about March 29, 2013, Ross William Ulbricht ... in connection with operating the Silk Road website, solicited a Silk Road user to execute a murder-for-hire of another Silk Road user, who was threatening to release the identities of thousands of users of the site," the indictment said.