To most of the people who knew him, Ross Ulbricht was an accomplished physics grad student who played in a drum circle and lived like a nomadic hippie. But online, he was the Dread Pirate Roberts, the head of a multi-billion dollar 21st Century drug empire and the target of a massive federal manhunt. This extraordinary story chronicles Ulbricht’s remarkable transformation from Eagle Scout to ruthless kingpin and traces the government’s frantic race to bring him down.
The kids at Carl Hayden High School were never expected to succeed. Many were poor and the drop out rate was high. The last thing anyone thought they would do was enter the national underwater robotics championship.
After all, Carl Hayden didn't even have a swimming pool and their robot team consisted of four immigrant kids with no budget. But they figured they'd give it a try, pitting themselves against the best college engineers in the country. MIT would be there, backed by Exxon-Mobil, but these kids didn't know enough to be scared. All they knew was that they had built a damn good robot.
On October 9, 1991, a centuries-old painting was brazenly stolen from the Ducale Palace, one of Venice, Italy’s most famous landmarks. Newspapers declared that “expert thieves” had pulled off the incredible heist, but detective Antonio Palmosi knew it was the work of one man: Vincenzo Pipino, the most accomplished thief the city had seen in a generation.
Pipino had been robbing the rich for decades, but the Ducale caper upended his life. The police knew he was responsible and gave him 20 days to get the art back. The problem: Local mob boss “Angel Face” Maniero now had the painting.
The heist, as it turned out, was only the beginning.
On November 7, 2006, something terrible happened to Nadathe Joassaint, a 26 year old Haitian beauty. Somebody called her out of her house and, when she came back in, she collapsed and died. There were no visible wounds.
Two months later, a large mob gathered in front of Judge Isaac Etienne's home. They demanded a trial and shoved forward two badly beaten men. Nadathe's mother then leveled one of the few accusations in the criminal code more spectacular than murder:
"He turned my daughter into a zombie!" she shouted. "Give her back."