Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the notorious Silk Road cyber black market, has been sentenced to life in prison.
Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, was convicted in February with a court finding him unanimously guilty on seven counts, including distributing narcotics by means of the internet, conspiring to distribute narcotics and of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
Judge Katherine Forrest of Manhattan's US district court for the southern district of New York on Friday handed Ulbricht, a 31-year-old physics graduate, five sentences: one of 20 years, one of 15 years, one of five and two of life.
All are to be served concurrently with no chance of parole, and Motherboard reports that the judge denied Ulbricht's request for a lower security prison.
Ulbricht was also told that he owes the government $184m, the total of drug and fake ID sales documented in Silk Road records.
Judge in #SilkRoad case just eviscerated Ross Ulbricht's harm reduction arguments and sentenced him to life in prison.— Kari Paul (@kari_paul) May 29, 2015
Ulbricht's defence team has already said it will seek an appeal.
Before the sentencing, the parents of the victims of drug overdoses addressed the court, during which Ulbricht broke down in tears and pleaded: "I never wanted that to happen. I wish I could go back and convince myself to take a different path."
Parents of #SilkRoad victims spoke before sentencing. Ulbricht broke down in tears as he apologized to them: "I never wanted that to happen"— Kari Paul (@kari_paul) May 29, 2015
Forrest rejected arguments that Silk Road had reduced harm among drug users by taking illegal activities off the street.
"No drug dealer from the Bronx has ever made this argument to the court. It's a privileged argument and it's an argument made by one of the privileged," she said, dismissing Ulbricht's plea that Silk Road was a "naive and costly idea" that ruined his life.
"The stated purpose [of Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the Dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws."
"What you did with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric," Forrest added.
Ulbrich was described by prosecutors as "the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise". They added that his conviction was "the first of its kind", and that "his sentencing is being closely watched."
Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in October 2013. The dark web site was accessible only through the Tor network and traded in Bitcoin, and was known to facilitate trade in illegal substances such as class A drugs.
The site, which was best known for facilitating trade in illegal substances such as class A drugs, also offered tutorials on a variety of illegal activities, such as how to make explosives and hack into ATMs, and provided contact information for hitmen.
It generated about $214m in sales and $13.2m in commissions, prosecutors said during Ulbricht's trial.
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