The Hells Angels are Old Pros at Encryption 

By Kate Knibbs on at

The Silk Road trial is back on, and we still don't know if Ross Ulbricht is going to go down for the crimes of the as-yet-unidentified Dread Pirate Roberts – the username of the person controlling the online marketplace. Today, the trial focused on DPR's interactions with the Hells Angels, who he allegedly hired to kill a rogue drug vendor.

Pre-trial materials revealed that the Dread Pirate Roberts encouraged members of the Hells Angels to assassinate a drug dealer named FriendlyChemist, who owed the Hells Angels money. FriendlyChemist insisted that a vendor he supplied acid had disappeared without paying him, leaving him short. Frantic to come up with the cash, FriendlyChemist tried to blackmail DPR. And that's when the alleged hit request went down.

The Hells Angels talked to the Silk Road boss on the Silk Road. "I would like to put a bounty on his head if it's not too much trouble for you," Dread Pirate Roberts wrote, according to reports from the courtroom.

It's not clear whether FriendlyChemist was actually killed (or who killed him, if so). It's not yet been proven that Ross Ulbricht ordered this hit as DPR.

But we do know that the self-identifying Hells Angels do not appreciate getting talked down to about encryption best practices by burgeoning digital drug lords:

Of course, in a case that rests on whether a digital identity can be definitively proven, it's not a guarantee that the "Hells Angels" that Dread Pirate Roberts spoke to were even recognised members of the storied crime organisation. This could've been a particularly intense catfish. This trial keeps getting stranger.