Ross Ulbricht: Infamous Darknet Proprietor
Ross Ulbricht is Snyonymous with the Silk Road
Ross William Ulbricht born 27 March 1984 created a darknet market named Silk Road and ran it until his 2013 arrest. The amount of media coverage Ross Ulbricht has gotten the Silk Road and Bitcoin far exceeds any other bitcoin related news. Maybe except, Mt. Gox and the Bitcoin $1200 price drop in 2013. Ross Ulbricht is still making headlines from prison Because of Ross Ulbricht’s coverage by the media, it seems that bitcoin has become insperable from both Silk Road and the illegality of that marketplace.
Dread Pirate Roberts Alias
The username chosen by Ulbricht “Dread Pirate Roberts” in the silk road has an interesting lore behind it. This name was created from the novel “The Princess Bride” a pirate of mythical reputation. The Dread Pirate Roberts is feared across the seven seas for his ruthlessness and swordfighting prowess, and is well known for taking no prisoners. It is revealed during the course of the story that Roberts is not one man, but a series of individuals who pass the name and reputation to a chosen successor once they are wealthy enough to retire. When the time comes, “Roberts” and his chosen successor sail into port and discharge the crew. Then they hire a new crew, the ex-Roberts staying aboard as first mate and referring to his successor as “Captain Roberts”. Once the crew grows accustomed to the new Roberts, the previous captain leaves to enjoy his retirement.
The implication here being that the Silk Road has had a series of owners. It just be that Ulbricht likes the novel or name but the backstory of this character and how it has a succession of pirates that fill this role make you wonder if that was the same setup with the Silk Road management with Ross being the latest “Dread Pirate” stuck with holding the bag.
Before his sentencing, Ulbricht begged the court to leave him his old age:
“As I see it, a life sentence is more similar in nature to a death sentence than it is to a sentence with a finite number of years. Both condemn you to die in prison, a life sentence just takes longer.… Even now I understand what a terrible mistake I made. I’ve had my youth, and I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age. Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel, an excuse to stay healthy, an excuse to dream of better days ahead, and a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker.”
Judge Katherine Forrest had this to say:
“The stated purpose [of the 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,” she told Ulbricht as she read the sentence, referring to his pseudonym as the Silk Road’s leader. “Silk Road’s birth and presence asserted that its…creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous.”
Public Outcry Over Verdict
Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for running the online drug marketplace that made more than $200 million in sales. As with most trials there are those for the verdict and against it. Although this has some validity with media coverage, it seems to be more of a shades of gray topic, and not “that S&M novel” either. The issue lies within the territory that Ross Ulbricht made a point within the market he created. He thought the “War on Drugs” would never end without government regulation, or deregulation as some would look at it.
An Appeal to Ross Ulbricht and the Silk Road
Many people on the internet are still fighting for a re-trial or appeal of Ross Ulbricht’s verdict. The most notable of these include his mother (as seen in the video below), freeross.org. Freeross.org focuses on the idea that Ulbricht’s case could be used as a precedent in future cases, which sets a high level of retribution on the government’s side.
The Future for Dread Pirate
This appeal is the latest in a long string of attempts by the defense to contest Ulbricht’s case, none of which have been successful. Last year, Ulbricht’s defense filed two motions to drop charges and suppress evidence. It is most unlikely for Ross to be granted any leniency in this matter. To put it bluntly he stands an ice cube’s chance in hell of securing a release for this Darkweb operator. Some may romanticize Ulbricht saying he stood up to authority maybe even calling him a hero. He played a high stakes game and busted out. Still many others will say Ulbricht is getting what he deserves. Whatever your opinion of him personally he most likely will not be receiving any form of leniency from the US government.
The bottom line is Dread Pirate Roberts operated outside the confines of the law, was caught, and will have to deal with the subsequent consequences of such. He did however develop an underground marketplace which had a demand. While his version of the silk road has since ceased operations many more have sprung up and will continue to spring up as long as demand remains.