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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
dark web

'You're no better than any drug dealer': Life in prison for 'Silk Road' website creator

Ross Ulbricht earned $18 million from commissions on one million online drug deals.

Drug Website Shutdown Associated Press Court sketch of Ross Ulbricht. Associated Press

THE MAN WHO created the online drug market ‘Silk Road’ was sentenced to life in prison today, after the website was linked to five fatal drug overdoses.

Ross Ulbricht (31), who went by the name “Dread Pirate Roberts”, had also tried to arrange the murder of five people who threatened to bring down the site by revealing the names of users.

“You are no better a person than any other drug dealer,” Judge Katherine Forrest told him during sentencing today.

It was a carefully planned life’s work. It was your opus.

Forrest told Ulbricht he was a criminal, even though he doesn’t fit the typical profile — he has two college degrees — and dismissed his attempt to minimise his crimes by saying the business was a big mistake.

From early 2011 until his arrest in October 2013, Ulbricht ran Silk Road as an anonymous market on the “Dark Web“, where users could buy and sell illegal products like drugs and hacking software.

Federal agents called it “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today.”

He is thought to have amassed $18 million in the virtual bitcoin currency by charging commission on more than one million transactions worth a total of $183 million.


Judge Forrest said the sentence was necessary to show others who might follow in his path that there are “very serious consequences.”

She added that Ulricht’s efforts to arrange the murders of five people he deemed threats to his business was proof Silk Road was not the world of “ultimate freedom” he said he was looking for.

Prosecutors cited at least five deaths traced to overdoses from drugs bought on Silk Road, and a parent of two of the victims spoke in court.

“I strongly believe my son would be here today if Ross Ulbricht never created Silk Road,” said one man, whose died of a heroin overdose in Boston, the New York Post reports.

Before the sentence was announced, a sniffling and apologetic Ulbricht told Forrest he’s a changed man who is not greedy or vain by nature.

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 use it.

As he left the courtroom, he carried with him photographs of those who died as a result of drugs purchased on Silk Road.

Read: FBI shuts down site that sold $80m worth of drugs, hitmen services and other illegal items>

Read: Bitcoin exchanges investigated over possible Silk Road connections>

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