Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht faces a lifetime behind bars after a Manhattan federal jury found him guilty in connection with his management of one of the most sophisticated criminal marketplaces on the Internet.
I have a 14-year old son. He lives in a cave. Some people used to call them bedrooms. There is a sign on the door that says: “Adults stay out or die!” People who have survived a visit to the cave have told of a land filled with the lost socks of washing machines all over the world; solidified food that now doubles as a stool, and more electronic gadgets than one would find in Scotty’s garden shed.
I often wonder what he’s getting up to?
I wonder if the parents of Ross Ulbricht often thought the same?
The 30-year-old Texan, who in 2013 was identified as Dread Pirate Roberts and the creator/administrator of Silk Road, has been convicted on seven counts of naughtiness including drug trafficking, money laundering and a whole host of other cyber crimes. He faces a lifetime behind bars when sentencing is handed out in New York City on 15 May 2015.
Silk Road is the name given to the dark side of the Internet. The place that exists on a site you don’t want to know about (unless your name begins with Don or Tsar) known as the Tor Network. Think dark side of the force and you’ll get the gist.
The court heard how criminals used the network to buy and sell drugs and transact on a wide range of illegal practices, including hiring hitmen. I’m not talking about the types of hitmen that Vince McMahon hires for his WrestleMania’s, I’m talking about the types that like to put a cap in your ass. The prosecutors even alleged Ulbricht was trying to hire hitmen to assassinate those who were trying to bring him down.
The currency of choice was Bitcoin. The court heard how Ulbricht took a cut from every sale. There was an estimated $1 billion worth of transactions. Ulbricht is believed to have held $18 million in the digital currency.
“Ulbricht’s arrest and conviction—and our seizure of millions of dollars of Silk Road bitcoins—should send a clear message to anyone else attempting to operate an online criminal enterprise,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “The supposed anonymity of the dark Web is not a protective shield from arrest and prosecution.”
The site was shut down in 2013, and almost immediately someone else tried to take his place. $18 million squid will do that. The second site was also shut down and a man called Blake Benthall was taken into custody.
Despite his defense team arguing that Ulbricht was being set up, he now faces a lifetime behind bars.
“This is not the end!” screamed his Mum as Ulbricht was led away from the court.
It took the Manhattan jury just three and a half hours to find him guilty on all seven charges. There will be an appeal with the defense team complaining bitterly that Judge Katherine Forrest suppressed evidence and kept witnesses from testifying.
He managed a billion dollars with nothing but a laptop and Wi-Fi.
I have to get into that cave.
I have to.