Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is sentenced to life in prison—the harshest possible punishment

The man who once styled himself the Dread Pirate Roberts.
The man who once styled himself the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Image: AP Photo/Vicki Behringer
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind of the illicit online marketplace Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison today for narcotics trafficking and other charges.

Federal judge Katherine Forrest handed down the sentence for Ulbricht’s role in facilitating the sale of drugs including heroin, cocaine, and LSD on Silk Road, using hard-to-trace technology tools like the Tor browser and the digital currency bitcoin. Prosecutors said that the creation of Silk Road was a “blueprint for a new way to use the Internet to undermine the law and facilitate criminal transactions,” and that the now-shuttered site has since spawned a number of copycat services.

Ulbricht was convicted in February, several months before two law enforcement agents were themselves arrested for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin in the course of their undercover investigation of Silk Road.