Science and Tech


Judge Makes Example Of Silk Road Founder With Life Sentence

The founder of online black market Silk Road is currently facing life behind bars after he was convicted on drug-related charges.
Posted at 9:50 PM, May 29, 2015

Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison Friday for his involvement in running the online black market Silk Road.

Ulbricht wasn't technically the one supplying the illegal products being sold on Silk Road. He hosted the website on the dark web, a part of the Internet that requires special software, such as Tor, to access. 

The site, which was the subject of the documentary "Deep Web," was basically black market eBay with individuals posting illegal products such as fake IDs, drugs and computer-hacking programs.

The life sentence Ulbricht received goes beyond what the prosecution in the case was even asking for. The length of the sentence was especially surprising because of the unique nature of the case.

The New York Times reports Ulbricht's defense tried to argue that Silk Road actually made the drug trade safer by taking it off the streets.

And Ublricht said in a letter to the judge founding the site wasn't about drugs but the idea "people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren’t hurting anyone else."

But U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement, “Make no mistake: Ulbricht was a drug dealer and criminal profiteer who exploited people's addictions and contributed to the deaths of at least six young people."

And according to prosecutors the site netted Ulbricht $18 million in the digital currency Bitcoin. More than $200 million worth of drugs moved through the site. 

This led Ulbricht to be convicted of five felonies including conspiracy to traffic in narcotics and launder money. He was also hit with a "kingpin" charge usually used to prosecute organized crime. (Video via CNN)

Ulbricht is expected to appeal the verdict. He operated Silk Road for three years before it was shut down in 2013. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and BTC Keychain / CC BY 2.0.