Using the alias SuperTrips, a 22-year-old Dutch man dealt drugs including cocaine, Ecstasy and LSD for millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency bitcoin through a black-market website, a US prosecutor said.
Cornelis Jan Slomp of Woerden, the Netherlands, facing a single drug-trafficking conspiracy count, agreed to plead guilty, according to a statement issued on Thursday by US prosecutor Zachary Fardon in Chicago and Slomp's lawyer.
He was arrested in Miami last year when a criminal complaint was filed against him. Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of more than US$3 million in alleged proceeds of his crimes.
Slomp sold the drugs through the now-shuttered Silk Road website, described by the Justice Department as a "sprawling black-market bazaar" for drug-dealing and money laundering.
Ross William Ulbricht, who allegedly ran the site under the name "Dread Pirate Roberts", pleaded not guilty in February to operating a narcotics-trafficking scheme, conspiring to launder money and other crimes.
"In the global black market for all things illegal, Slomp allegedly was a prolific vendor on Silk Road," said Gary Hartwig, the Homeland Security special agent in charge of investigations in Chicago, in a statement issued jointly with Fardon.
Slomp was captured at the Miami International Airport on route to a meeting with co-conspirators, where he planned to "spin off his entire US Silk Road operations" to one of them, prosecutors said. He is in custody facing a mandatory minimum sentence of five years' imprisonment and a maximum term of as long as 40 years.
His lawyer, Paul Petruzzi of Miami, confirmed his client's intent to plead guilty today in a phone interview. No court date had been set for the plea, he said.
"It was a decision that he made early on, something that we've all been working on as a team since his arrest," the lawyer said. A plea agreement with prosecutors would be filed, he said.
Slomp is alleged to have had 11 European co-conspirators who aided in the manufacturing, packing and shipping of illegal drugs, including Ecstasy tablets bearing a question mark, which prosecutors said was Slomp's identifying logo.
Slomp allegedly received about 385,000 bitcoins from more than 10,000 transactions. The virtual currency was trading recently at about US$490 per unit, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index.
His Silk Road operations ran from March 2012 to August 2013 and were monitored by undercover federal agents, the government said.
He was identified by US officials as the person who mailed drugs from the Netherlands that were seized in April 2012 in an otherwise empty DVD case at Chicago's airport.