Ross Ulbricht, a 31-year-old native of Austin, Texas, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the creation and operation of ‘The Silk Road,’ an underground marketplace for illicit activity such as the sale of drugs, the hiring of hitmen, and the purchase of firearms.
The online market place was the setting for the sale of heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, Marijuana, and many more illegal drugs and items. The Internet is tense with discussion over Ulbricht’s guilt or lack thereof. Over 1.5 million transactions took place on the site and six people are known to have died as a result of drugs sold through the marketplace.
The Silk Road was set up in 2011 and shut down in 2013, and Ulbricht’s’ arrest followed thereafter. Ulbricht accused of money laundering, hacking-related charges, and conspiracy to engage in narcotics trafficking, and there was also evidence that may have pointed to his role in an assassin-for-hire marketplace. Messages placed in evidence suggested that Ulbricht placed a hit on another Silk Road user, and further suggested that he had done it before.
The U.S Department of Justice had sent a letter to Judge Katherine Forrest urging her to make an example out of the Silk Road founder in order to dissuade copycats in the future. She acquiesced and handed down a sentence even more severe than the prosecution had explicitly requested. The New York Times has an expansive set of quotes from both Ulbricht and the Judge in the courtroom. They are a fascinating read, showing Ulbricht pleading for clemency and Judge Forrest providing an unwavering response.
Mr. Ulbricht and his team will appeal the sentence.