Federal Prosecutors Seek Lengthy Prison Sentence for Creator of Silk Road Website

Federal prosecutors are asking for a long prison sentence for Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the website Silk Road, which sold illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine and LSD.

Ulbricht was convicted in February on seven counts. Four of the counts, including distributing narcotics on the Internet and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, carry potential life sentences. The government did not ask for the maximum term, however. The office of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Ulbricht should receive a sentence that is “substantially above the mandatory minimum” of 20 years that he faces for one of the counts on which he was convicted.

“Ulbricht bears responsibility for the overdoses, addictions and other foreseeable repercussions of the illegal drugs sold on Silk Road,” Bharara’s office wrote. “It does not matter that he did not personally handle those drugs; neither would a traditional kingpin.”

Silk Road was shut down by authorities in 2013. The New York Times reports prosecutors, in a sentencing memo filed in Federal District Court, called Ulbricht a digital drug kingpin who ran an “online black market of unprecedented scope,” which resulted in addiction and fatal overdoses.

The government said over Silk Road’s three years in business, more than 1.5 million transactions were conducted on the site. More than 13,000 offerings of illegal drugs were listed on the site when it closed, the article notes. Silk Road generated revenues of more than $213 million from January 2011 to October 2013, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Ulbricht.

Federal prosecutor Serrin Turner said earlier this year that the website “lowered the barriers to drug dealing by enabling drug dealers to reach customers online they could have never met on the street.”

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