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Who Is Ross Ulbricht? What Was He Convicted of?

Ross Ulbricht (born 1984) is a former darknet market operator most well-known for creating and operating the Silk Road market.

He was arrested in 2013, and two years later a Manhattan federal jury discovered him responsible on seven expenses together with conspiracy to launder cash, conspiracy to commit laptop hacking, conspiracy to site visitors narcotics by the technique of the web, and persevering with a felony enterprise (the so-called kingpin cost). 

Ulbricht, a first-time offender, was not convicted of truly promoting unlawful medicine and different gadgets himself, however of making and working a web site the place others did. He was sentenced to life in jail.

Ulbricht, who used the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” on-line, is sentenced to spend the remainder of his life in federal jail.

Key Takeaways

  • Ross Ulbricht, the “Dread Pirate Roberts” of the web, based and operated the darknet market Silk Street in 2011 till it was shut down by the U.S. authorities in 2013.
  • The positioning was a market that included felony exercise together with medicine and weapons gross sales. The positioning’s customers paid utilizing cryptocurrency; encryption protected consumer identities.
  • In 2013 Ulbricht was arrested and indicted on seven expenses together with conspiracy to launder cash, conspiracy to commit laptop hacking, conspiracy to site visitors narcotics by the technique of the web, and persevering with a felony enterprise.
  • Ulbricht was discovered responsible on all counts and was sentenced to 2 life imprisonment phrases plus 40 years, to be served concurrently with no probability of parole.
  • He stays in jail as we speak, along with his request for attraction denied by america Courtroom of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Early Life and Schooling

Ulbricht grew up close to Austin, Texas, finding out physics on the College of Texas at Dallas after which Pennsylvania State College to pursue a grasp’s program in supplies science.

Throughout this time, Ulbricht developed a eager curiosity in libertarian views of financial principle. He turned a supporter of the political thinker Ludwig von Mises and aligned his views with outstanding libertarian politicians.

Notable Deeds

Early Profession

In 2009, upon his commencement from Penn State, Ulbricht returned to Austin to turn into an entrepreneur. His early makes an attempt had been unsuccessful, and he moved between quite a few jobs. He tried his hand at day buying and selling and creating video video games, in addition to founding an organization to promote books on-line.

It was throughout this time that Ulbricht first developed the concept of making a web-based market using Tor encryption and bitcoin, which was nonetheless in its nascent phases on the time.

By adopting encryption and cryptocurrency, Ulbricht believed that his market might present anonymity and safety for its contributors, permitting them to keep away from authorities scrutiny.

Tor passes consumer data by an unlimited community of encryption procedures, successfully disguising the identification and site of contributors on the community, whereas bitcoin affords a decentralized and nameless transactional platform. This early thought would finally turn into the Silk Street market.

Silk Street

Ulbricht based Silk Street in 2011, calling himself “Dread Pirate Roberts” on-line, in a nod to the hit 1987 film The Princess Bride. He envisioned Silk Street as a “means to abolish the usage of coercion and aggression amongst mankind,” based on his LinkedIn web page.

He additionally mentioned he was “creating an financial simulation to offer individuals a first-hand expertise of what it will be wish to reside in a world with out the systemic use of drive.”

Silk Street turned fashionable over a really brief span of time. When quite a few media retailers picked up tales available on the market in mid-2011, a major quantity of curiosity developed within the web site, and site visitors elevated exponentially. After all, as the location turned extra broadly identified, authorities additionally made strikes to determine Silk Street customers and to close down the location.

Nonetheless, Silk Street remained a well-liked, however shrouded market the place each authorized and extremely criminality occurred by 2013. According to the prosecutors, by the point it was shut down the location had generated nearly $213.9 million in gross sales and $13.2 million in commissions for its proprietor.

Arrest, Trial, and Imprisonment

The Daily Dot in early 2013 reported that an Australian drug seller was the primary particular person to be convicted of crimes straight linked to the Silk Street. From this level, the identification of customers of Silk Street continued to develop, and finally, the FBI decided that Ulbricht was the founder and proprietor of Silk Street. He was arrested on Oct. 2, 2013, in a San Francisco library, and was later indicted on seven expenses.

Ulbricht additionally confronted murder-for-hire expenses in a separate case in a Baltimore federal court docket. These expenses had been finally dropped in 2018.

Within the strategy of shutting down Silk Street, the FBI seized 144,336 bitcoins from a shared digital pockets on Ulbricht’s laptop computer. They had been bought in a collection of auctions producing proceeds price $48.2 million.

Ulbricht’s trial started in January 2015 in Manhattan, and he was convicted on all seven counts. The trial was a extremely publicized and charged occasion, with the presiding choose reportedly receiving dying threats from presumed Silk Street supporters, though that was by no means confirmed.

Previous to his sentencing, Ulbricht said through a letter to the choose that his actions had been linked to his libertarian beliefs and that “Silk Street was presupposed to be about giving individuals the liberty to make their very own decisions.” On Could 29, 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to 2 life imprisonment phrases plus 40 years to be served concurrently with out the opportunity of parole.


Ulbricht tried to attraction, and in Could 2017, america Courtroom of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied his try. Additionally in 2017, Ulbricht appealed to the Supreme Court, with attorneys arguing that his case entails unresolved constitutional questions relating to the Fourth Modification and the digital age.

However in June 2018, the court docket declined to listen to Ross’s case. On Oct. 10, 2019, Ulbricht filed a movement with the New York Southern District Courtroom to vacate or put aside his sentence. This movement was additionally denied.

In late 2020, nationwide media reported that former President Donald Trump was contemplating commuting Mr. Ulbricht’s sentence, however finally he didn’t.

Since Ulbricht’s incarceration, greater than 435,000 have signed an online petition created by Lyn Ulbricht, Ross’ mom, to commute his double life sentence. His supporters have additionally created an online fact sheet to supply extra particulars about Ross’s case.

How Lengthy Was Ross Ulbricht’s Jail Sentence?

On Could 29, 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to 2 life imprisonment phrases, plus 40 years, to be served concurrently with out the opportunity of parole.

Was Ross Ulbricht Concerned in Creating Bitcoin?

Whereas darknet websites, and Silk Street particularly, had been early adopters of bitcoin, Mr. Ulbricht was by no means concerned in creating bitcoin.

Does Silk Street Market Nonetheless Exist?

The FBI shut down Silk Street shortly after Ross Ulbricht’s arrest, seizing 144,336 bitcoins within the course of.

The Backside Line

Ross Ulbricht is notorious for creating and operating the Silk Street market, and whereas he claims that his intentions for beginning the location had been altruistic, a federal jury discovered him responsible on seven critical expenses, together with conspiracy to site visitors narcotics, and he was sentenced to spend the remainder of his life in jail. 

Mr. Ulbricht’s many supporters decry his sentence as unjust, and nearly half 1,000,000 individuals have signed a petition for clemency in his case.

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