Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of running the deep web black marketplace used to deal drugs. Ulbricht, who operated the site under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was convicted in February of seven drug and conspiracy charges for his role in creating Silk Road, including drug trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. Ulbricht was also accused of soliciting multiple murders for hire, the Associated Press reports. He faced a minimum of 20 years in prison.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest prior to sentencing, Ulbricht asked for leniency from the life sentence recommended by the Probation Department. “Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel, an excuse to stay healthy, an excuse to dream of better days ahead, and a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker,” Ulbricht said, adding that he had made a “terrible mistake.” “In creating Silk Road, I ruined my life and destroyed my future,” he wrote.
However, prosecutors argued that Ulbricht deserved more than the minimum 20-year sentence for his efforts to pioneer and develop “a blueprint for a new way to use the Internet to undermine the law and facilitate criminal transactions,” since Silk Road conducted business on an anonymous Tor network and relied on untraceable Bitcoins as currency. Prosecutors contend that at least six people died after overdosing on drugs acquired on Silk Road. At Friday’s sentence, Forrest handed Ulbricht the maximum sentence possible.
Ulbricht’s life sentence comes one day after Cornelis Jan “SuperTrips” Slomp, admittedly one of Silk Road’s most prolific drug dealers, was handed a 10-year prison term. Slomp accumulated more than $3 million in Bitcoins selling MDMA, ecstasy, cocaine, LSD and other drugs on Silk Road, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He was arrested in Miami prior to the FBI busting Silk Road, and eventually cooperated with authorities by giving them control of his “SuperTrips” account on the site. Slomp pleaded guilty in 2014.