Ross Ulbricht, the San Francisco man who founded the online purveyor portal, Silk Road, was sentenced Friday May 29th to life in prison for his role in operating the shadowy online marketplace. Ulbricht founded and maintained the dark net emporium for three years, during which more than 1.5 million transactions were made between thousands of seller accounts and more than 100,000 buyer accounts, reported the New York Times.
Silk Road became known as an illegal drug connection website, however, anything could be bought and purchased through the site.
Prosecutors say Ulbricht enabled more than 1 million drug deals on the site, which, along with other illicit activity, generated more than $214 million in sales, and earned him about $18 million in bitcoins.
The drug dealer and buyer relationships proved to be Silk Road's and Ulbricht's undoing.
Ulbricht was convicted in February 2015, of seven drug and conspiracy charges. At the time, prosecutors also accused the 31-year-old of hiring assassins to murder those he viewed as threats to him and the success of Silk Road, which he ran under the name Dread Pirate Roberts.
Due to the copious amount of charges Ulbricht faced and their severity, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. Those array of charges were cited by Judge, Katherine B. Forrest as her reason for imposing the life sentence. She explained in one sentence.
“What you did in connection with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric.”
Some people argue that Ulbricht did no more than other online purchase portal founders such as those of eBay and Amazon, and adds he couldn't control what his buyers and sellers were exchanging. His defense team may have been able to successfully argue that had Ulbricht not knowingly profited from the illicit transactions that Silk Road became famous for. However, Ulbricht and his defense team couldn't argue he wasn't in the drug business, instead they argued Silk Road made drug dealing safer.
That argument cost Robert Ulbricht his freedom for life.
The sentence also sends a message to those that want to take large-scale criminality from the streets to the web. The long arm of the law is extended into the algorithms of the dark web and along with it follows a real lock and key secured cell.