The Silk Road gained steady popularity in 2011 when it was launched as an online black market. It enabled users to sell and purchase illegal contraband. Admittedly, it was a drug dealer’s paradise as it operated as a Tor hidden service, an untraceable network. Therefore, users could easily browse on the site without getting caught without any possibility or worry of being monitored. The idea caught fire and soon it became loaded with visitors.
Initially, the site could only provide its sinister services to a limited number of people. However, gradually it began to charge fee for each new account. This became a rather profitable business. The selling and buying of drugs through this unsupervised medium allowed that all such activities could escape criminal liabilities, however this was short lived.
In 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) detected these unlawful activities and shut down the website immediately. Subsequently, the owner and founder of the website, named Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested and charged. Yet, the idea did not die there. In November 2013, Silk Road 2.0 was furnished by the same administrators. It was also accordingly shut down and the perpetrators were caught.
The arresting of Ross Ulbricht opened the case proceedings. Recently, the expected verdict was passed: he is sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of narcotics conspiracy charges and other ancillary charges. The judge, Katherine Forrest, swang between the verdicts of life sentence or death penalty and admitted that the call was “very, very difficult” to make. Giving a sentence of life imprisonment is indeed equated with Ulbricht’s horrific master planning. He is devoid of any possibility of getting out on parole. Judge Forrest rightly highlighted that Silk Road was “an assault on the public health of our communities.” She continued that the life imprisonment was justified by stating, “You are no better a person than any other drug dealer. Your education doesn’t make you different, and makes this more inexplicable.”
Yet, the case of Silk Road and its founder Ulbricht demonstrates certain eye opening realities. To begin, it points out the degree and extent certain genius individuals are willing to go to in order to meet profitable gains. Ulbricht’s scheme of Silk Road is a business project; one that was foolproof and indeed profitable. While he was brilliant, he decided to divert his abilities to an area which is a victim of charges, arrests and executions. This means that the State needs to be careful in what it is trying to monitor: the mind of a genius or simply illegal bouts.
On the other hand, the said case also serves as a testimony to the U.S legal system and its dedication towards serving justice. Judge’s Forrest verdict clearly mirrors the heinous intentions of Ulbricht and his associates. The ruling shows that whoever decides to deviate from the law of the country, cannot escape the consequences. Ross Ulbricht is a prime example of that!