Life in PRISON: DPR hunted, captured, convicted and sentenced to LIFE

A federal judge sentenced Silk Road darknet mastermind Ross Ulbricht to life in prison Friday for founding and operating a criminal version of eBay that made buying illegal drugs almost as easy as clicking a computer mouse.

After considering the 31-year-old Texas native's apology and plea for leniency, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ordered him to serve far more than the mandatory minimum 20 years faced for his February conviction on five criminal charges.

The punishment, two life terms and three lesser prison sentences, matched the maximum punishment called for under federal sentencing guidelines and recommended by a government probation report.

Saying the sprawling global drug operation "wasn't a game, and you knew that," Forrest also imposed a nearly $184 forfeiture order on the Ulbricht.

"What you did with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric," said the judge, who lectured Ulbricht that he was like any other drug dealer, even though his operation seemed sleek and safe as it handled hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions worldwide.

The convicted mastermind behind the world's largest online narcotics emporium wrote a heartfelt letter to the judge. 

Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, 31, and 97 of his friends and relatives wrote letters to District Judge Katherine Forrest pleading for the most lenient sentence possible — in this case, 20 years.

Ulbricht's own letter, which is just over a page long, is significant given his decision not to testify during the trial. It is his first attempt to defend — and show remorse for — his actions.

"When I created Silk Road I wasn't seeking financial gain," he writes. "I created Silk Road because ... I believed at the time that people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren't hurting anyone else."

Throughout the trial, the prosecution, led by Assistant US Attorneys Serrin Turner and Timothy Howard, attempted to characterize Ulbricht as a ruthless drug kingpin who was "motivated by greed and vanity," and whose website resulted in countless addictions and multiple drug-related deaths because of the ease with which it allowed people to purchase drugs.

"It does not matter that Ulbricht did not specifically intend any deaths to occur from his conduct," the prosecution writes in its sentencing memorandum. "Ulbricht was well aware of the dangers inherent in the products he was selling."
silk road


(Screenshot) Drugs sold on Silk Road Ulbricht partially concedes this point in his letter. 

"Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices, to pursue their own happiness," he writes. "While I still don't think people should be denied this right, I never sought to create a site that would provide another avenue for people to feed their addictions."

Related: 6 Brave Govt. Whistleblowers Charged Under the Espionage Act by Obama’s Administration 

Ulbricht's lawyer, Joshua Dratel, argued that Silk Road had provided a platform for buying and selling drugs that was "far safer" than traditional drug dealing on the street.

In the defense's sentencing memorandum, Dratel notes how Ulbricht was an Eagle Scout and "excelled in school," and has "a unique set of skills and traits that will enable him to become a valuable asset to his community."

"In creating Silk Road ... I squandered the enviable upbringing my family provided me, all of the opportunities I have been given, and the ones I have earned, and my talents," Ulbricht writes. "I could have done so much more with my life."
Ross Ulbricht with sister and mother, SF, Sept. 13
(Free Ross Ulbricht) Some of Ulbricht's fellow inmates also wrote letters of support on his behalf.

"We shared a cell at MDC and spent 24 hours, 7 days a week together for several months," writes inmate Michael Satterfield. "During that time, Ross ... spent his days sharing positive thoughts with the other inmates ... and began teaching yoga and meditation to the general population, inviting anyone to join in."

Ulbricht also tutored fellow inmates in math and physics while helping others study for their GED, according to another inmate, Davit Mirzoyan. 

"I will not lose my love for humanity during my years of imprisonment," Ulbricht writes in his letter. 

Related: Underground America is back online. How to beat the police, CPS, DEA, FBI, IRS and NSA. How to beat any drug test, police sting and how to beat your court case and more.
Ross Ulbricht
(AP Photo/Elizabeth Wlliams) Ulbricht in NY courtroom photo. In February, Ulbricht was found guilty by a federal court on the charge of running Silk Road under the pseudonym "Dread Pirate Roberts." 

Ulbricht was convicted of all seven counts including trafficking drugs on the internet, narcotics-trafficking conspiracy, running a continuing criminal enterprise, computer-hacking conspiracy, and money-laundering conspiray.

Ulbricht admits in his letter that he made a "terrible mistake."

While HSBC bankers get a slap on the wrist and a small fine....smh.

You can read Ulbricht's full letter here.

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