Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the first “modern darknet market,” has reached the 10-year mark of his double life sentence in prison after having his laptop seized by the FBI in 2013.
The founder of the former Silk Road online black market, Ross Ulbricht, marked 10 years behind bars after he was given a double life sentence by United States authorities in 2013.
On Oct. 2 Ulbricht posted on X (formerly Twitter) that he has already spent a full decade in prison and fears he will spend the remainder of his life “behind concrete walls and locked doors.” He said all he can do now is “pray for mercy.”
One year for each finger on both hands.
Today ends a full decade in prison.
I sometimes fear I’ll spend the rest of my life behind concrete walls and locked doors. But I have no one else to blame. It’s my poor choices that led me here.
All I can do now is pray for mercy.
— Ross Ulbricht (@RealRossU) October 1, 2023
Silk Road started in 2011 and was run and operated by Ulbricht from his personal laptop under the username “Dread Pirate Roberts.” It is known as the first modern darknet market with a payment system built on Bitcoin (BTC).
However, on Oct. 1, 2013, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized the laptop.
Ulbricht was convicted in a U.S. federal court in 2015 for various charges relating to the operations of the Silk Road. He was sentenced to two life terms plus forty years and no possibility of parole.
According to the court documents from the case, the Silk Road site facilitated sales amounting to 9,519,664 Bitcoin between February 2011 and July 2013 and took a commission of 600,000 Bitcoin.
At the time of publication of the court documents, this equaled approximately $1.2 billion in sales and around $80 million in commissions.
Ulbricht’s case has received widespread attention, with many echoing calls for the website’s founder to be shown clemency.
According to a website fighting for freedom for Ulbricht, over 250 organizations have backed these calls, and half a million people have signed a virtual petition to free Ulbricht. He has also found great support among the crypto and Bitcoin communities.
Nearly makes me cry to see this post, the punishment didn’t suit the crime and people who have done much worse have had a chance of redemption, #freeross
— Soberclown.eth (@bitcoinnz) October 2, 2023
One user went so far as to deem Ulbricht a “Bitcoin political prisoner” and said he is someone Bitcoiners can never forget.
Ross Ulbricht is a Bitcoin political prisoner.
He has been in prison since 2013.
Some would prefer we forget him, but Bitcoiners never will.
Ross was sentenced by the federal government to 2 life sentences + 40 years with no parole.
As a first-time offender and convicted… pic.twitter.com/usPlbN79j1
— Phree ☢️ (@BitPhree) September 30, 2023
While there is a powerful swell of support for Ulbricht and many internet users have voiced agreement that the punishments given to the Silk Road founder were unjust, there are others who see the outcome differently.
One X user pointed out that the prosecution in the case against Ulbricht claimed that he allegedly hired hitmen to have several people killed, though he wasn’t officially charged with this.
Is murder for hire legalized yet or no. Seems like the lede was buried a bit in this intro.
— Rob Freund (@RobertFreundLaw) October 2, 2023
Another user highlighted what actually happened on the Silk Road site, including sex trafficking and the drug trade, and how it was used by “terrible people to do this stuff.”
Silk road sold drugs, human trafficking and other things. Let’s not pretend like it wasn’t used by terrible people to do this stuff. That being said I’m sure that’s not how he intended it to be used
— shoooooooo (@shoooiiiii) October 2, 2023
Debates online continue as Ulbricht defenders point to modern social media platforms, such as X and Facebook, saying, “All of those things happen on [X] as well. And every other social media site.“
The leading website dedicated to freeing Ross has posted the sentences dealt to others involved with the Silk Road saying that the average sentence is around six years. The top drug seller on the site was only given seven years in prison and is currently free.
Additionally, the Silk Road 2.0 creators have served either no time behind bars or only up to 6.5 years and are now free.
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