If you were aware of the black market website, Silk Road, during its heyday at the top of the decade, then you were already one step closer to committing a felony. The online marketplace for heavy drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy amassed millions in revenue before being shut down in the November 2014.
Now, Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht has to answer for the multiple crimes, including at least one victim overdosing from the drugs being purchased, with a life sentence in prison.
Reports the New York Times:
Mr. Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, for his role as what prosecutors described as “the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise.”
Mr. Ulbricht’s novel high-tech drug bazaar operated in a hidden part of the Internet sometimes known as the dark web, which allowed deals to be made anonymously and out of the reach of law enforcement. In Silk Road’s nearly three years of operation, over 1.5 million transactions were carried out involving several thousand seller accounts and more than 100,000 buyer accounts, the authorities have said.
Judge Forrest echoed that message. “What you did was unprecedented,” she told Mr. Ulbricht, “and in breaking that ground as the first person,” he had to pay the consequences. Anyone who might consider doing something similar, the judge added, needed to understand clearly “and without equivocation that if you break the law this way, there will be very serious consequences.”
Mr. Ulbricht was convicted in February on charges that included engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and distributing narcotics on the Internet, each of which carried potential life terms. The government had also alleged that he had solicited the murders of people he saw as threats to his operation, and that at least six deaths were attributable to drugs bought on the site.
At the hearing, the mother of one such victim and the father of another each delivered emotional statements to the judge. The father, identified as Richard, whose 25-year-old son had died after using heroin that prosecutors said was purchased on Silk Road, accused Mr. Ulbricht of being driven by greed in making drugs easily available to vulnerable people.
“I strongly believe that my son would be here today if Ross Ulbricht had not created Silk Road,” he said, adding, “All Ross Ulbricht cared about was his growing pile of bitcoins.”
A tearful Ulbricht expressed remorse for his actions at his sentencing but you know they say hindsight is always 20/20.
Photo: Reason TV