The Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, has denied Ross Ulbricht’s petition to appeal his life sentence, meaning he will spend the rest of his life in federal prison. This follows similar decisions from lower courts and ends the saga of the Silk Road’s founder who operated under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts.
The Silk Road is perhaps the most notorious darknet market in history and was the original darknet market that used Bitcoin. On Silk Road, users were able to buy every type of drug imaginable, in addition to weapons and tools for identity and credit card fraud. The Silk Road actually played a major role in Bitcoin’s increasing price and adoption during the early years, with over BTC 9.5 million transacted worth USD 1.2 billion at the time.
The amount of drug trafficking and financial fraud stemming from Silk Road led to a massive federal law enforcement operation, culminating with the capture of Ulbricht and the shut down of Silk Road in 2013. BTC 26,000 were seized from Silk Road accounts, and BTC 144,342 seized from his computer. These Bitcoins were auctioned off, mainly to Tim Draper for only USD 17 million, which is an incredible bargain since these Bitcoins are now worth USD 1 billion.
Ulbricht’s grounds for an appeal were that his 5th and 6th Amendment rights were violated. His internet traffic was traced and collected without a warrant, and he says the judge gave him an unreasonable sentence because he was accused of hiring a hitman. Ultimately, he was never convicted of hiring a hitman and, therefore, he says the accusation should not have influenced his sentence. In total, 20 organizations across the political spectrum filed amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court in support of Ulbricht’s petition.
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