Obama Ricin Letter Suspect Linked to Bitcoin Drug Bazaar

antanacoins/Shutterstock.com

The alleged would-be poisoner was a vendor on Silk Road, a black market eBay that only accepted the virtual cash.

A former seller on the now-shuttered Silk Road website, a black market eBay that only accepted bitcoin, is one of the suspects accused of mailing President Obama poison-laced letters this year, according to Homeland Security Department officials. 

The revelation came in response to a Senate committee’s request for information on the risks and benefits of the unregulated virtual currency. Bitcoin, which can be exchanged for real products and services or traditional money, is transferred through a peer-to-peer network almost anonymously.

For this reason, DHS officials say Silk Road facilitated the trafficking of, among other things, narcotics, biological agents, and fake passports. 

After busting up the operation earlier this fall, U.S. authorities say they continue to probe the site's annual revenue stream of more than $250 million and its hundreds of thousands of users.

"Of recent noteworthy interest was the determination that the suspect who had sent Ricin to President Obama earlier this year was a vendor on the Silk Road site,” Brian de Vallance, DHS acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs, wrote in a Nov. 12 letter to lawmakers.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this summer had inquired with several agencies that monitor financial transactions, including the FBI and Treasury Department.

The letter did not name the suspect or identify what the individual was peddling. In separate incidents, two people have been indicted for sending Obama the toxin this year. James Everett Dutschke, charged in April, is scheduled for trial on unrelated fondling charges this month, the Associated Press reported on Oct. 25. Dutschke, a former Tupelo, Miss. martial arts instructor, originally had framed an Elvis impersonator for the ricin crime.

Shannon Richardson, alleged to have sent poisonous letters in May, has been deemed a “flight risk” and must remain in jail pending trial, CNN reported in September. Richardson, an actress who had minor roles in TV’s "The Walking Dead" and "The Vampire Diaries,” also initially pinned the blame on someone else: her husband.

The Senate committee released the DHS letter Friday evening, ahead of a hearing planned for Monday afternoon on the implications of virtual currencies for agencies and citizens. Among the witnesses slated to testify are U.S. authorities and financial regulators, as well as officials from the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children and members of the bitcoin community, including Circle Internet Financial and Bitcoin Foundation.

Bitcoin has the potential to become a common world currency, say advocates and at least one Federal Reserve official. 

"It represents a remarkable conceptual and technical achievement, which may well be used by existing financial institutions (which could issue their own bitcoins) or even by governments themselves," François R. Velde, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, stated in a primer on the currency issued earlier this month. 

Some digital cash backers say the “censorship-resistant” money bolsters Internet freedom, as well as the free market.

Bitcoin “allows oppressed individuals to transact even when governments regulate traditional payments processors, and that's a good thing,” Jerry Brito, a researcher at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, wrote in American Banker.

Consider a nongovernmental organization “that wants to fund human rights groups fighting for gay rights in Russia. Without a facility like Bitcoin, it might be impossible to electronically transfer money for good causes,” added Brito, who is expected to testify on Monday.

Having no third-party intermediary, the system can lower transaction costs – but also mask money laundering. Velde said he anticipates the currency is unlikely to remain free of government intervention, "if only because the governance of the bitcoin code and network is opaque and vulnerable.”

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.