A San Francisco man who created the underground drug-selling website Silk Road was sentenced Friday to life in prison by a judge who cited six deaths from drugs bought on his site and five people he tried to have killed.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest told 31-year-old Ross Ulbricht he was a criminal even though he doesn't fit the typical profile — he has two collegiate degrees — and she brushed aside his efforts to characterize the business as merely a big mistake.
"It was a carefully planned life's work. It was your opus," she said. "You are no better a person than any other drug dealer."
Ulbricht's 2013 arrest shut down what prosecutors described as an unprecedented one-stop online shopping mall where the supply of drugs was virtually limitless, enabling nearly 4,000 drug dealers to expand their markets from the sidewalk to cyberspace, selling drugs on a never-before-seen scale to more than 100,000 buyers in markets stretching from Argentina to Australia, from the United States to Ukraine.
The government said in court papers that Ulbricht left a blueprint that others have followed by establishing new "dark markets" in sophisticated spaces of the Internet that are hard to trace, where an even broader range of illicit goods are sold than were available on Silk Road.