Feds file ‘kingpin’ charge against alleged Silk Road creator

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday invoked a powerful drug trafficking law, previously used against Mexican cartels and U.S. street gangs, in the case against the alleged mastermind behind Silk Road – a defunct billion-dollar online black market for drugs, guns and other illicit wares.

In a four-count indictment filed in the Southern District of New York, prosecutors wrote that alleged Silk Road creator Ross William Ulbricht had engaged in a “continuing criminal enterprise,” a crime defined as a series of felonies in which one person “organized” or “supervised” an operation involving five or more other people.

The charge, sometimes called the “kingpin statute,” carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison upon conviction and can be enhanced to a mandatory life sentence if prosecutors can prove that a suspect trafficked in extremely large amounts of drugs or earned more than $10 million in “gross receipts” during any 12-month period.

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