Silk Road Founder Found Guilty on All Charges

By May Wilkerson 02/05/15

Ross Ulbricht pleaded not guilty to the charges late last year.

Ross Ulbricht
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Ross Ulbricht, the man behind online drugs marketplace Silk Road, was found guilty on all charges this week after a three-week trial. He was convicted of drugs conspiracy, money laundering, and trafficking, among other charges, and faces 20 years to life in prison.

According to evidence presented at the trial, Ulbricht, under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts,” first masterminded Silk Road in 2009. It was launched in 2011 and soon became a massive international online marketplace, where members hawked everything from heroin and cocaine to drug paraphernalia and other illicit items, like computer hacking programs.

Goods were sold anonymously and paid for with electronic currency bitcoins. By charging a percentage commission on each deal, the site had racked up roughly $18 million in net worth by the time of Ulbricht’s arrest, said prosecutors.

Though Ulbricht, 30, admitted in court to creating Silk Road, he insisted that he sold it and cut ties before his arrest by the FBI in 2013. His defense attorney claimed that the site was created as a harmless "economic experiment" that was taken over by actual drug lords.

But the jury ultimately found Ulbricht guilty on all charges against him. His sentencing is scheduled for May.

Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said Ulbricht’s conviction "should send a clear message" that "the supposed anonymity of the dark web is not a protective shield from arrest and prosecution."

After Silk Road was shut down, the market was soon replaced by Silk Road 2.0. The alleged operator of this site, 26-year-old Blake Benthall, was arrested last year and faces up to 10 years in prison.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.