Ross Ulbrict, the 31-year-old operator of the online drug emporium Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday. The website was once the online largest distributer of illegal substances, including cannabis, MDMA and heroin. Launched in 2011, the secret site, often compared to Amazong and eBay, generated over $1 billion in sales annualy before it was shut down in 2013. Ulbrict, who ran the website under the pseudonymn "Dread Pirate Roberts," begged Judge Katherine Forrest to “leave a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“I never wanted that to happen. I wish I could go back and convince myself to take a different path,” he said in court after parents of users who had overdosed spoke. “I’ve changed. I’m not the man I was when I created Silk Road. I’m a little wiser. A little more mature and much more humble."
After Ulbrict's conviction, the defense gave final remarks on the matter: “In contrast to the government’s portrayal of the Silk Road website as a more dangerous version of a traditional drug marketplace, in fact the Silk Road website was in many respects the most responsible such marketplace in history, and consciously and deliberately included recognized harm reduction measures, including access to physician counseling.”