Just every other industry in the world, the drug industry must adjust with the times. With technology improving every day, drug dealers look for ways to use it to fly under the radar of law enforcement agencies looking to nail them. Ross W. Ulbricht, can be seen as an innovator in the drug game for his creation of the online black marketplace, Silk Road. Heroin, cocaine, LSD and pretty much every other drug that people get high on were available on Silk Road and were paid for with Bitcoins. However, the feds saw Silk Road as a major problem and Ulbricht was arrested and charged with seven counts related to his dealings. On Wednesday, a jury found him guilty on all charges.
From January 2011 to October 2013, Ulbricht made $213 million off the Silk Road enterprise before being caught (Bitcoins can be traced). He was apprehended by FBI agents in a San Francisco library as he was logged into his laptop under the name “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the moniker he used to operate Silk Road. According to the government, Ulbricht made millions off of commissions through the sales on the site. In his closing arguments, federal prosecutor Serrin Turner said “[Silk Road] lowered the barriers to drug dealing by enabling drug dealers to reach customers online they could have never met on the street.”
Prosecutors also showed evidence that Ulbricht paid hundreds of thousands in Bitcoins for murder contracts on several people he saw as viable threats, though the government has said no one was harmed.
Ulbricht is due back in court for sentencing on May 15th for his Silk Road operations. His charge of running a criminal enterprise carries a twenty year sentence alone. More serious charges such as distributing narcotics on the Internet and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise could potentially get Ulbricht life in prison.