The accused operator of the online black marketplace Silk Road had a digital journal on his laptop detailing the development of the website and predicting it would become a “phenomenon,” jurors heard on Wednesday.
Prosecutors showed jurors in Manhattan federal court journal entry excerpts dated in 2010 and 2011 found on a laptop seized when the FBI arrested Ross Ulbricht, who authorities say operated the website where drugs and other illicit goods could be bought with bitcoins.
“Silk Road is going to become a phenomenon and at least one person will tell me about it, unknowing that I was its creator,” a 2010 journal entry on Ulbricht’s laptop said.
The documents came on the fifth day of the high-profile trial to spill out of U.S. authorities’ efforts to crack down on the use of the digital currency bitcoin for drug trafficking and other crimes.
Prosecutors say Ulbricht operated Silk Road under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” in a scheme that generated $US200 million in drug sales until authorities shut the website down.
Ulbricht has pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking. Joshua Dratel, his lawyer, has acknowledged Ulbricht created Silk Road but says his client became the “fall guy” for its true operators.
Prosecutors introduced the journal entries as well as chatlogs found on the laptop in an effort to demonstrate Ulbricht was Silk Road’s operator.
A 2010 entry on Ulbricht’s laptop said the website was originally going to be called “Underground Brokers.”
“The idea was to create a website where people could buy anything anonymously, with no trail whatsoever that could lead back to them,” the journal said.
A 2011 journal entry detailed the launch of Silk Road, a “huge spike in signups” after getting press attention and calls by two U.S. senators for Silk Road’s shutdown.
“I was mentally taxed, and now I felt extremely vulnerable and scared,” the journal said. “The US govt, my main enemy was aware of me and some of it’s members were calling for my destruction.”
A Dec. 29, 2011, journal entry detailed going out that day with a woman who knew “I work with bitcoin” and telling her about having “secrets.”
“It felt wrong to lie completely so I tried to tell the truth without revealing the bad part, but now I am in a jam,” the entry wrote. “Everyone knows too much. Dammit.”
The case is U.S. v. Ulbricht, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-06919.
(Editing by Andrew Hay)
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