Silk Road black market leader Ross Ulbricht gets life in prison

Ross Ulbricht, the man behind the Silk Road online black market for drugs and other illicit goods, has been sentenced to life in prison. The news comes after a long legal battle spanning many months, one that included such things as law enforcement corruption and legal papers showing how the arrest came about. It's bad new for Ulbricht, who had asked for leniency ahead of the sentencing. Such serves as a warning for others considering using the Internet to run a criminal enterprise.

Ulbricht is 31-years-old, and despite requests to the judge for "a small light at the end of the tunnel", in relation to his sentence, no such leniency was given. The sentence comes from US District Judge Katherine Forrest, and was the result of, she said, more than 100 hours of struggling to determine the appropriate sentence for the crime. In her words, the ultimate decision was "very, very difficult" to make.

Life in prison is the harshest sentence that could have been given under applicable law, and is quite a bit more severe than the 20-year minimum Ulbricht would have to have served. Judge Forrest called Silk Road's existence "terribly destructive to our social fabric" — and, at least in prosecutors' eyes, the severe sentence serves as a deterrent for others who may consider picking up where Silk Road left off.

The charges Ulbricht was found guilty of were severe, and spanned several criminal activities including conspiracy to launder money and sell drugs, as well as to hack computers. He was found guilty of these seven charges back in February. Millions of dollars' worth of transactions were said to have taken place on the Silk Road, which was up and running for two years before the feds took it down. It served as a place for individuals to buy drugs, weapons, illegal documentation, and more using Bitcoin.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal