The mastermind behind “Silk Road,” Ross Ulbricht, has been found guilty on seven charges, including drug trafficking, computer hacking, and money laundering. He was handed five sentences that include two for life and are to be served concurrently with no chance of parole.
Jury convicts Ross Ulbricht on 7 charges:
The 31-year-old was behind the illegal online drug emporium, which was also called the “Amazon of drug dealing.” Judge Katherine Forrest, of Manhattan’s U.S. District Court for the southern district of New York, sentenced him on Friday.
Six deaths were linked by the prosecutors to the sales of drugs sold through Silk Road.
“The stated purpose [of Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the Dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws; you are no better a person than any other drug dealer.
“What you did in Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric,” Forrest told Ulbricht as she read the sentence.
Silk Road was once the largest “dark web” marketplace for illegal drugs and other services. In March 2013, the secret site listed 10,000 items for sale, 7,000 of which were drugs, including cannabis, MDMA, and heroin. Prosecutors said Silk Road had generated nearly $213.9 million in sales and $13.2 million in commissions before police shut it down, wrote The Guardian.
The rise and fall of Silk Road:
“I’ve essentially ruined my life and broken the hearts of every member of my family and my closest friends. I’m not a self-centered sociopathic person that was trying to express some inner badness. I do love freedom. It’s been devastating to lose it. I wish I could go back and convince myself to take a different path,” Ulbricht said.
Silk Road was set up in 2011, and was operated by Ulbricht under the name Dread Pirate Roberts, a reference to a swashbuckling character in the film The Princess Bride. It used the virtual currency Bitcoin, making it hard for investigators to track transactions, wrote The Telegraph.
The Guardian wrote that Ulbrict had begged the judge to “leave a light at the end of the tunnel” ahead of his sentence. “I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age,” he wrote to Forrest this week. Prosecutors wrote Forrest a 16-page letter requesting the opposite: “[A] lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum, is appropriate in this case.”
The reaction from Ulbricht’s lawyer and mother to his life sentence:
Forrest rejected arguments that Silk Road had reduced harm among drug users by taking illegal activities off the street.
“No drug dealer from the Bronx has ever made this argument to the court. It’s a privileged argument, and it’s an argument made by one of the privileged,” she said.
Throughout the trial, the defense suggested that Ulbricht was the victim of a complex hacking attack that left him looking like the fall guy. Given the evidence presented against Ulbricht, the pitch proved a hard sell to the jury, wrote The Guardian.
Even on the Internet, you are responsible for your own actions, and sooner or later the law will catch you with you.