Vancouver’s James Ellingson
A Vancouver man, James Ellingson, is the subject of an extradition request by the Southern District of New York (“SDNY“), based on charges that include money laundering and narcotics importation.
Ellingson was arrested in Vancouver on October 29, 2018, under an Extradition Act provisional warrant. According to the SDNY, Ellingson sold drugs on the darknet site Silk Road, that was shut down by the FBI.
He is alleged to have been a user named “Marijuanaismymuse” and under that user name, allegedly was a prolific drug seller, selling 19 kilos of marijuana (this is what 19 kilos of marijuana looks like), 7 kilos of MDMA, 4 kilos of meth (this is what 4 kilos of meth looks like), 2 kilos of cocaine (this is what 2 kilos of cocaine looks like) and 100 grams of heroin to various online purchasers and was paid with Bitcoin, allegedly in an amount that exceeded $2 million.
The alleged proceeds of crime earned in Vancouver in Bitcoin were allegedly funnelled through a Canadian digital currency exchange. Drug sales on the darknet, if they involve Vancouver traffickers, are shipped by Canada Post in little packages to buyers.
Ellingson allegedly has a long criminal record in Vancouver, including convictions for criminal harassment, assault, possession of a prohibited weapon, drug trafficking and drug possession and according to the allegations, appears to have continued criminal activities on the darknet.
In order to locate the user behind “Marijuanaismymuse”, the FBI undertook Bitcoin wallet tracing and obtained a court order for Gmail records. According to affidavit evidence, Ellingson communicated with Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the darknet site, Silk Road.
It is also alleged that Ellingson may be the user “redandwhite.” Redandwhite is significant because it is the person who Ross Ulbricht contacted about killing a person in Vancouver who was blackmailing him.
Ulbricht wrote to Redandwhite for the contract killing and said: “would like to put a bounty on his head if it’s not too much trouble for you. What would be an adequate amount to motivate you to find him? Necessities like this do happen from time to time for a person in my position.” Ulbricht went on to clarify that it didn’t need to be “clean”.
You can read the transcript for the contract killing here.
Redandwhite quoted a price of $300k+ for clean and $150k -$200k for non-clean, to which Ulbricht replied: “Are the prices you quoted the best you can do? I would like this done asap.”
The parties allegedly agreed on a price of 1,670 Bitcoin for the job and the payment was recorded on the Blockchain. A day later, Redandwhite informed Ulbricht that the problem was taken care of and allegedly sent photographs to confirm the murder had occurred.
Ordered not to communicate with Ulbricht
Ellingson is out on bail in Vancouver, waiting for a hearing on the application for his extradition to the US, and has been ordered not to communicate with Ross Ulbricht.
Ross Ulbricht is incarcerated in the US, serving a jail term at a maximum security facility of double life imprisonment plus 40 years with no possibility of parole. He has exhausted all his appeals and will never be released. He is not allowed to communicate with anyone on the outside except his family once a week. He was one of the world’s foremost money launderers and created the darknet drug trafficking Bitcoin model, which resulted in the deaths of several teenagers around the world from fentanyl overdoses. He was tried as a super kingpin. His right hand man was another Canadian.
You can read about Ross Ulbricht’s trial here. Ulbricht and the drug traffickers who were vendors on the Silk Road Tor website, trafficked significant volumes of illegal drugs and other illegal services worldwide, including fentanyl.
No actual murder?
It seems likely that Ulbricht was played and the person who blackmailed him was the same person who offered to help kill the blackmailer, and ergo, the murder didn’t actually take place. And that person, it would appear from theories, may be Redandwhite.
But that theory has at least one hole – if true, it would have been a substantial set of facts that Ulbricht could have introduced at his trial to mitigate the factual matrix in respect of the allegations that he was a murderer. Inter alia, Ulbricht would have known if the communications came from the same IP address and same device. So would the FBI in their investigation. And so would the digital currency exchange in Vancouver that provided the Bitcoin exchange services for both ends of the deal, e.g.., to the blackmailer and the hit man. Ulbricht did not introduce any technical evidence at his trial in respect of IP addresses or Bitcoin wallet intersections or Bitcoin account holders, to show that the blackmailer and the hitman were one and the same person and that no one was at risk of being murdered.
In Vancouver, no evidence was introduced at the extradition hearing of Ellingson as to the receipt, conversion and such of the $2 million that allegedly passed through Ellingson’s Bitcoin wallets at the digital currency exchanges for the alleged drug trafficking activities.