The prolific Internet drug trafficker known as “SuperTrips” landed in Miami nine months ago with just a cell phone and $20,000 in cash, ready to hit the South Beach club circuit in a rented Lamborghini.
But federal agents cut the party short.
On Thursday, Cornelis Jan Slomp, AKA SuperTrips, stood in a quiet federal courtroom in Chicago and admitted to being the largest drug trafficker on the now-shuttered underground Silk Road website, running a worldwide operation that distributed staggering quantities of Ecstasy, cocaine and other illegal substances to customers in exchange for millions of dollars worth of the digital currency bitcoins.
As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, Slomp, 23, a Dutch national, is cooperating with law enforcement in exchange for a recommended 15-year prison sentence. Prosecutors might even ask for less time behind bars if he provides “substantial assistance” on future investigations. He could have faced as many as 40 years in prison.
Slomp’s cooperation could be a boon for authorities on the new frontier of cyber-drug trafficking where drug suppliers and distributors operate in virtual anonymity and sites like Silk Road can adapt quickly to efforts to track transactions
After court, Slomp’s attorney, Paul Petruzzi said his client may testify against Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” who was indicted on drug conspiracy and murder-for-hire charges in New York. Ulbricht, who was arrested in October, was accused of soliciting the murders of a federal witness and a disgruntled drug dealer who threatened to expose names of Silk Road users.
Slomp is also providing information about numerous drug suppliers and distributors in his chain of command, including a cocaine supplier from Chicago and a man in Florida who was purportedly going to take over Slomp’s U.S. operations.
Slomp, a one-time computer software programmer, admitted in his plea agreement that over an 18-month period beginning in March 2012 he distributed worldwide more than half a million pills of Ecstasy, 104 kilograms of powdered Ecstasy, as well as large quantities of cocaine, LSD, marijuana and prescription painkillers.
The case against Slomp began in April 2012 after customs officers at O'Hare International Airport seized an envelope mailed from the Netherlands that had Ecstasy concealed inside an empty DVD case. Agents in Chicago eventually collected more than 100 similar envelopes containing various controlled substances, each mailed from the Netherlands or Germany and traced to Slomp's vendor account on Silk Road, prosecutors said.
Authorities said they have seized more than $3 million in bitcoins tied to Slomp’s operation, some of which have since been converted into U.S. currency.
Slomp appeared in court Thursday dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, speaking in such a soft voice that U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly asked him to move closer to the microphone.
According to the plea deal, Slomp could wind up serving a large part of his prison sentence in his home country as part of an international prisoner transfer program. Prosecutors have agreed not to take a position if Slomp requests such a transfer with the U.S. Department of Justice so long as he continues to cooperate.
Court records show that Silk Road had nearly a million registered users worldwide -- about 30 percent based in the U.S. -- in its 2 1/2 years of operation.