Words By: Trilokesh Chanmugam
Image Credit: Quartz
Ulbricht’s sentence was handed down by Judge Katherine B. Forrest on Friday the 29th.
31 year old Texan Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to two life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole, and ordered to pay $183 million in restitution. Recognized by his online pseudonym ‘dread pirate Roberts’, Ulbricht is the notorious creator of ‘Silk Road’, the deep web marketplace for drugs and other illicit goods.
Mr. Ulbricht was convicted earlier this year on seven charges, which included distributing narcotics over the internet, money laundering, and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. Mr. Ulbricht faced a minimum of 20 years in prison, but the sentence handed down by Judge Forrest was severe beyond expectations, despite pleas for leniency.
“What you did in connection with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric,” Judge Forrest told Mr. Ulbricht.
The trial has drawn public attention to the role of the internet in criminal enterprise, as well as bringing into question the validity of the war on drugs. The defense team and an active group of protestors have made every attempt to claim that Silk Road actually reduced harm, because users were safer buying drugs through the site than on the streets. Other people, including the father of a Perth teenager who died in a drug related incident in 2013, have held Ulbricht personally responsible for the harm caused by drugs acquired through Silk Road.
A core group of Ulbricht’s supporters have alleged that he was deprived of a fair trial, and Ulbricht’s Defense Attorney has confirmed that he will be appealing the decision on the grounds of withheld information.