Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole back in 2015, following his arrest for creating and running the Silk Road, which was a highly popular dark web drug market before its 2013 shutdown.
He has since fought his conviction for crimes including money laundering and drug trafficking conspiracies, as well as the unduly harsh prison sentence.
Ulbricht had filed a petition for a panel or a full rehearing of the case, which was rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The petition hearing was held at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in New York City.
It would be safe to speculate that the reasons for the denial of the August petition are the same as the May petition.
In the May case, Ulbricht’s lawyers pointed out the illegal searches carried out by authorities investigating the Silk Road, as well as the involvement of corrupt federal agents in overseeing the effort leading to his harsh sentence for non-violent crimes.
The three-judge appellate panel addressed and dismissed the arguments and upheld the decision of the lower court, although they disagreed with the unexpectedly harsh sentence and American drug laws.
It is yet to be known whether the August appeal was denied on the same grounds, but it is highly likely.
The anticipated legal move for the Silk Road founder is a petition to the Supreme Court.
The founder of the Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, successfully created a huge underground marketplace which at its peak entertained more than 4,000 vendors and hundreds of thousands of customers, from Australia, Europe, Canada and the U.S.
The website helped facilitate deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, ranging in everything from drugs such as heroin and cocaine to fake passports and even contract killings.
Campbell was one of those vendors, dealing in drugs like marijuana, heroin, steroids and diet pills.
In 2013, Campbell mailed 2 grams of heroin to Mettee, including a large quantity of the anti-anxiety medication, Xanax.
The delivery was cleverly concealed inside a DVD case of the movie “Godsend.”
The Fatal Shot
A friend came by Mettee’s apartment after he failed to show up for work.
He then found Mettee lying unconscious on his desk.
His body was technically still alive, but the 300 milligram shot of heroin, which he had cooked and injected earlier, had stopped his lungs and thus cut off the oxygen supply to his brain.
His family had to later make the horrible, but inevitable decision to terminate his life support.
After the 27-year-old software engineer had received and injected the “china white” heroin, Campbell emailed him about 30 minutes later but Mettee’s condition had worsened over time.
The Silk Road website was still opened on his computer.
The heroin alone had cost $300, but all the drugs in the package cost a total of $1,100.
Five More Lives Lost
Mettee’s death was not the only one connected to the Silk Road.
There were five other drug-related deaths, but federal prosecutors focused on his case to prosecute Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road—better known online as the “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
There’s even an available form on the site where you can recover your lost funds if you prove your identity and provide the necessary evidence.
Furthermore, shortly after this announcement, another incident came along. Users’ funds were stolen after the site’s servers had been hacked. Most of the users were let down, and despite all attempts of the Silk Road to make a positive impression and gain a certain reputation, most of the people were frightened of the name of Silk Road 3.1.
The dark market community was truly divided on this topic. Many considered that the owners of SR3.1 pulled off a big exit scam. By extension, they also believed that the announcement of the hacking was an enormous lie.
Still, many comrades believe that a third party was responsible for this incident and the owners of the Silk Road 3.1 were honorable members of the darknet market community.
After a certain time has passed, I am glad to tell you the Silk Road 3.1 is back up! Subsequently resolving some technical issues, the Silk Road market has risen again as of August 1.
The comeback of the Silk Road 3.1 brought much more obligations to the owners of this market—mainly showing their reliability and trustworthiness to the site’s vendors and buyers.
The ultimate goal is to prove their loyalty in order to win their previous users again. Every doubt any of the users has is justified and upheld, so all that is left for the Silk Road 3.1 and its owners is to confirm the market’s decency and correctness.
It is only a matter of time when Silk Road 3.1’s administrators will prove their dedication to their comrades.
After an incident revolving around Silk Road 3 happened in early 2017, a post on DarknetMarkets subreddit emerged, explaining what has allegedly happened to the market, and the reasons behind it.
The post was written by one of the SR3 mods, who was working on SR3 and who tried to rectify some of the harm that was caused.
NOTE: Silk Road 3.1 was supposedly HACKED and the owners temporarily closed it down. It is now back up and operational. In recent weeks, AlphaBay and Hansa markets were seized by law enforcement so they are also gone.
You must keep your identity safe, so always use a VPN and PGP, and never use your real email or name. Happy Trails.
In the continuation of the post, the mod who goes by the name AlphaWaves claims that another mod called BattleStar was starting to become paranoid and had stopped working for the marketplace—causing the cessation of fund transfers.
After that, the darknet market was proclaimed to have underwent an exit scam, and it was supposedly closed.
While this was all happening, AlphaWaves and a third mod from SR3, named Paragon, started working on a new marketplace called Silk Road 3.1.
In the initial post, AlphaWaves claimed that all the funds that were locked on SR3 servers were still up on the site, and the team would try to refund as much as possible back to the vendors.
The post about the SR3 exit scam also served as an announcement for the opening of the future SR3.1.
Before the site went live, former SR3 vendors were allegedly contacted in an attempt to refund the Bitcoin lost during the SR3 exit scam.
There was even a form available on the Silk Road 3.1 site that could be used to recover lost funds, if the necessary evidence was provided.
Despite all attempts to make a positive first impression on the users of the darknet market, the stigma of the Silk Road’s name still deterred most people from trying out the new marketplace.
The market was active for around four months and it was starting to gain a reputation, despite retaining the infamous Silk Road brand that many members of the darknet community had learned to stay clear of.
Most of this was due to the fact that many buyers and vendors have reported that AlphaWaves was one of the best support administrators they’ve encountered on the dark web, and that they were very pleased with the way they were treated on SR3.
The user claimed they contacted SR3.1’s support team with report, but they were soon banned from using the site after doing so.
Shortly after SR3.1 was closed, an announcement was released that the market’s servers had been hacked and the funds were stolen.
A subreddit post said the site displayed a banner with the words “The End,” along with an alleged explanation of the situation.
The explanation stated that all the funds on SR3.1 were stolen, but that users’ personal information were not touched. Further down there is an offer, primarily to the owners of Hansa and Dream Market, that they take over all the equipment and software used for running SR3.1 for free and attempt to restart it.
There is also an offer for sale of said equipment to any “decent market/darknet personality” for the amount stolen, so that the cash trove could be refunded.
By doing so, said “personality” would gain ownership of the market.
There’s also information about SR3.1’s alleged daily turnover for the past week, along with details about active advertising outlets and user count data.
The announcement ends with a small field and captcha that can be filled out and used as a means of arranging the said sale of SR3.1.
The darknet market community is heavily divided on this topic, as is expected. Those who claimed that the Silk Road name brought only bad news after the initial market was taken down are holding on to the claim that the announcement was a lie and that, in reality, the owners of SR3.1 just pulled off an exit scam.
Others claim that the owners of SR3.1 were upstanding members of the darknet community, and that some third party entity was involved in this incident.
Whether or not these claims prove to be true, the reality is that the Silk Road 3.1 funds have most likely disappeared irreversibly. The only thing SR3.1 vendors and buyers can do is wait and see if somebody will step up and buyout the debt in the days to come.
Family members of Ross Ulbricht, founder of the notorious Silk Road darknet market, tried to visit their beloved family member in the early days of July at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York.
Unfortunately, they could not find him at his assigned correctional facility. Instead, the family learned that the authorities decided to transfer him to another location.
NOTE: Silk Road 3.1 was supposedly HACKED and the owners have closed it down. It is a shame, but before too long there will most likely be a Silk Road 4. In the recent weeks, AlphaBay and Hansa markets were seized by law enforcement so they are also gone. But not to worry. The next biggest market is Dream Market. Go to https://dreammarketdrugs.com and you are back on another excellent darknet market. You must keep your identity safe, always use a VPN, and PGP, never use your real email or name. Happy Trails.
They did so through the hashtag #FreeRoss. Ulbricht contacted them the following day informing them about the transfer. The family also tweeted about this development.
The family members have expressed a great deal of concern over the correctional facility that would house Ulbricht.
They feel that it might be hostile to him. For example, the July 6 tweet suggested that Ulbricht deserves a prison that has a safe and secure backyard.
Ross Ulbricht’s Vision & Philosophy
Ulbricht, a Penn State University graduate, wanted to build a dark web site using Bitcoin and Tor.
Tor would help him hide his IP while Bitcoin would help him hide the connection between his identity and his online wallet. He thought that this kind of anonymity would help him evade enforcement officers.
In 2010, Ulbricht embarked on his dream. More specifically, he started building the dark web market called Silk Road, where he would use Dread Pirate Roberts as his login name.
As indicated in his diaries, he wanted to turn 2011 into “a year of prosperity” through this Silk Road venture.
On his profile description for his LinkedIn page, Ulbricht hinted that he envisioned the world as a place that should operate without coercion or aggression.
Silk Road’s End
In October of 2013, Ulbricht was arrested in connection with the darknet marketplace he had built.
An IRS investigator, Gary Alford, first suspected that Ulbricht was in fact running Silk Road under the Dread Pirate Roberts screenname.
Alford’s suspicions started in mid-2013 when he was working with the DEA on the Silk Road case.
Upon his arrest, Ross was charged with money laundering, computer hacking, procuring hitmen for murder and conspiracy to traffic narcotics.
Those who used his website accessed it via the Tor browser, after which they could buy anything, from jewelry to raw milk to narcotics. Then they would pay for these products using Bitcoins.
After his arrest, the Silk Road founder was put on trial where he would respond to all of these charges except the one for murder.
The prosecutor removed the murder charge but the people who procured various products from his site did not commit any murder with the goods they bought.
In May 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Post-Arrest Events & Subsequent Trial
Early in 2016, Ulbricht’s lawyers submitted an appeal claiming that the DEA’s evidence of the Silk Road investigation was illegally withheld by the prosecutor.
And in October 2016, there was an oral hearing of the appeal.
Ulbricht’s campaign team confirmed the Coinbase freeze.
They stated that they had moved the Bitcoins to Coinbase from blockchain, to enable them to convert to USD and pay for Ross’ defense. However, upon trying to validate their account, it was disabled without any explanation.
All they were told is that Coinbase would get back to them in 72 hours.
Coinbase is one of the most standardized Bitcoin exchange services in the United States.
This company is highly regulated. It’s registered and certified as a Money Service Business with FinCEN.
Hence, it is expected to comply with many financial services and consumer protection laws.
This company has been known to freeze accounts whenever any suspicious activity is noticed.
It also freezes the accounts of those who engage in online gambling. Coinbase has a strict policy where it requires details about how clients intend to use their Bitcoins.
The Silk Road creator’s campaign team has been in operation since the first time he was arrested in October 2013 over the same issue.
The Free Ross campaign has not engaged in any illicit activities. All the campaign does is just present Ulbricht’s side of the story.
In addition, the team tries to raise funds to pay for legal defense and appeals.
The campaign had not been storing all its Bitcoins on Coinbase, but was using the account to convert donations to USD.
Still, the Ross Ulbricht-related plot thickens. Just recently, Coinbase announced that a former federal prosecutor named Kathryn Haun was joining its board of directors.
Haun was a digital currency coordinator at the United States Department of Justice, where her primary focus was on national security, cybercrime, financial fraud and gang activity.
She mainly led investigations into the corrupt federal agents that had been accused of theft and corruption during the Silk Road case.
Both suspects were successfully prosecuted and are now serving a jail term.
The news of Haun joining Coinbase’s board of directors did not sit well with some members of the Bitcoin community.
The freezing of the Silk Road creator’s campaign wallet was a little suspicious, especially since it happened soon after her appointment to the board.
However, it turns out Haun was not the prosecutor that convicted the Silk Road founder.
Coinbase has since unblocked Ross Ulbricht’s legal defense wallet after a flurry of complaints.
Ross Ulbricht is now destined to spend the rest of his life in prison following the sound rejection of his appeal that was meted out the previous week.
The Second Circuit appellate court ruling was firmly delivered to the Silk Road drug kingpin, famously known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” in a manner that expressed subtle sympathy for the somewhat excessive, yet completely justified conviction of Ulbricht by the lower district court.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road is BACK ONLINE NOW as Silk Road 3.1 and open for business. The team did a change and upgrade for a reason we can only assume for security.
This marked the end of Ulbricht’s five-year battle to escape his lifetime imprisonment sentence, which was influenced by an investigation marred with vast inconsistencies, according to Ulbricht’s defense.
Unauthorized Searches, Corrupt Investigators
The Silk Road investigation is one that will be remembered not only for its unexpectedly severe ending, but also for a number of inconsistencies which many believe played a hand in the largely unfair ruling.
These sentiments were echoed by the appellate court judges who seemed to concur with the majority opinion that the sentencing was heavier than most courts would have issued.
Ulbricht’s appeal was hinged on two key occurrences that his defense feel could have negatively influenced the outcome of his trial.
The appellate court also received and dismissed claims that the Silk Road investigators had conducted unauthorized surveillance of his home network, through which they managed to collect information from his social media and email accounts.
Ulbricht’s defense also raised the issue of what they termed as “unconstitutional searches,” which led to the seizure of his laptop. To this argument, the three-judge panel responded that the searches had been backed by warrants and were as such legal under the Fourth Amendment.
The appellate court upheld and maintained the life imprisonment sentence, despite the prosecution’s move to appeal to the district court’s emotional side by introducing statements which had little or no direct relevance to the Silk Road founder’s case.
Claims that this could have led to misgivings in the final ruling were shot down by the judge panel, who backed the district court’s ability to make decisions that weren’t afflicted by the wrenching testimony.
The three judges, however, agreed that the Silk Road customers’ deaths did not hold much relevance to the trial.
No Reprieve for the Drug Market Founder
In the end, the final ruling of the appellate court terminated all hopes of Ulbricht clawing his way out of life imprisonment without parole. The decision to uphold the district court’s ruling was heavily influenced by the “kingpin” charge, which portrayed Ulbricht as a ruthless administrator who had gone to great lengths to protect the wealth he had amassed through the Silk Road under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts.
They reiterated that there had been overwhelming evidence of this, citing the three attempted murder charges that had weighed profoundly against Ulbricht and ultimately played the biggest part in his sentencing.
According to the court documents, the ruling, although excessive, was completely justifiable. In addition to Ulbricht’s actions, the judges called attention to the volume of sales generated by the drug-fueled marketplace, saying that any prosecution would be justified to seek extreme punishment in such a case.
His sentencing was initially intended to partially serve as a dire warning to other dark web drug kingpins which, in retrospect, worsened the situation drastically.
Subsequent versions of the Silk Road all raked in sales that amounted to more than double of what Ulbricht was arrested for in what was a brash display of impunity by online drug overlords who were now much more alert to the danger of being nabbed by the federal authorities.
The appellate court’s ruling also contained undertones of doubt and subtle sympathy for the extreme sentencing of a young man to spend the rest of his life in prison. The panel admitted that although the sentencing was permissible, they might have considered a less harsh ruling if the case had been presented to them first.
Be it as it may, the writing is finally on the wall: Ross Ulbricht, founder of the trailblazing Silk Road One, will live out the rest of his days in prison.
Founded in 2011 by Ross Ulbricht, a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts, Silk Road was the first and definitely the most popular darknet market. But, back in 2013 the FBI arrested Ulbricht, sentenced him to two lifetime sentences and seized the website.
Ever since, people have tried to revive the original brand, and build their success on it, but all of them failed big time.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road is BACK ONLINE NOW as Silk Road 3.1 and open for business. The team did a change and upgrade for a reason we can only assume for security.
Just after the arrest of Ulbricht in 2013, a second version of the site appeared and claimed that it was run by the administrators from the original website. The admin of the new version was also called Dread Pirate Roberts, even though Ulbricht was already in prison.
People simply assumed that Ulbricht’sassociates wanted to make the government believe they had the wrong guy.
The same year, the FBI arrested two staff members of Silk Road 2, while the mastermind abruptly dissapeared promising to reinstate the website. The next year, its user accounts were hacked and $2.7 million worth of bitcoins were stolen, marking a definite end of the second version of the market.
Keeping in mind how version 2 ended, it is understandable why Silk Road 3 received so many negative reactions when it launched in 2014. A host of users claimed that the third version of the marketplace was a scam.
So, the admins launched a new and improved version of the market.
Silk Road 3.1
According to the official website, Silk Road 3.1 was created because its predecessor was shut down and allegedly, most vendors moved to the new version of the market.
Now, if you want to access the site, it’s important to make sure you have all the precautionary measures in place—install Tor browser and opt for a decent VPN application.
When registering to Silk Road 3.1, you will be prompted to type in your username, password, pin code and to provide the correct captcha. You will be shown your personal recovery key; make sure you copy and paste it somewhere safe.
After the registration, simply log in using your credentials and you’re all set to browse the marketplace.
But before that, you’ll be greeted with a message prompting you that you’ll be able to reclaim your lost bitcoins if you were a user of the previous version of the site. Simply fill out the form and submit your request.
Keep in mind, though, that your old username won’t work so you’ll have to come up with a new one.
When it comes to user interface, the 3.1 iteration is quite similar to the previous version. At the top of the page, you’ll see the usual menu: home, messages, notifications, profile, orders, support, settings, uchat, faq, forum and logout, respectively.
Just below the dashboard, there’s a search bar, but if you are more into browsing, you can find your desired item(s) arranged in nine categories on the right side of the user interface.
What Can Users Buy on the 3.1 version?
Currently, there are more than 30,000 listings on the market. You can purchase the following types of drugs:
Aside from drugs, you can also buy fake money, eBooks, various accounts, etc. on the Silk Road 3.1.
Forbidden items on the market include weapons, child pornography, poisons and terrorism-related items. Also (interestingly), Russians are not welcome on the market in any capacity, to sell or to buy.
Of course, to purchase an item on the Silk Road 3.1, users have to make a bitcoin deposit. And similar to other markets, there’s a review system for both vendors and customers.
Admins recommend using the escrow payment system at all times, especially when buying from new vendors.
There is also the refund option, but only if it turns out that the vendor was a scammer. If the package is seized by the police, the buyer will not be granted a refund.
The Future of Silk Road 3.1
Most of the site’s old users claim that each attempt to revive the concept is in vain and that the brand is dead. After the Silk Road 2 fiasco, it will take a lot of time for any variant to again win over users’ trust.
As for the Silk Road 3.1, the darknet marketplace’s future is probably not very bright according to customer reactions. But, on the other hand, the ability to reclaim any lost bitcoins from the previous version is definitely a nice gesture which might just result in customers’ good will to forgive and forget. We’ll see!
‘American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road’ documents the journey of the young programmer and his brainchild, the Silk Road — throughout its growth, its eventual corruption and its inevitable demise.
Penned by New York Times bestselling author Nick Bilton, the book portrays not only the Silk Road’s development into a haven where cyber criminals could interact and conduct business undeterred, but also Ulbricht’s eye-opening transformation into a full-fledged crime lord who would willingly spill blood to protect his empire.
A Drug Empire Run from Coffee Shops
During Silk Road’s heyday, as Bilton learned through those involved in the drug-fueled enterprise, Ulbricht lived and worked from Glen Park, San Francisco, and would occasionally run his business from a number of coffee shops frequented by the writer.
Bilton drew from a number of sources in writing the book, including over two billion words in the form of private chats, images and journals that were left behind after Ulbricht’s arrest.
A building he habitually passed while walking, the Glen Park Library, would later become the place where the young programmer would be met with the arm of the law, as Bilton explained.
Dread Pirate Roberts
On his helm of power, Ross Ulbricht ran his business as Dread Pirate Roberts. This pseudonym might have been coined initially to serve as nothing more than a screen name but by the end of his tenure as creator of the original Silk Road, it had an ominous ring to it.
The bigger Silk Road grew, the more determined Ulbricht was to protect it, according to Bilton.
The corruption of the bright young mind was inevitable. By the time of its demise, Dread Pirate Roberts had made $1.2 billion in sales and an estimated $80 million in commissions.
Most of his wealth was stashed in bitcoin, the digital form of currency that made all transactions on the dark web possible, according to the FBI.
It was only a matter of time before money and power corrupted his morals.
Dread Pirate Roberts authorized a hit on one of his former employees, Curtis Green, who he suspected had been stealing from him.
Green had also been nabbed in a failed cocaine deal and now posed a threat to him and the continuity of his business as well.
Bilton captured the online exchange between Dread Pirate Roberts and Green’s would-be assassin, demonstrating that the former participant showed no remorse at all.
In fact, he claimed that Green’s lack of integrity had forced him into paying for his death.
Abominably, he retained a picture of what looked like a dead Curtis Green on his computer as proof of the murder.
Dread Pirate Roberts made his first and, ultimately, most consequential error in hiring an assassin who was actually an undercover DEA agent to do his bidding.
The Dark Web Thrives
Ulbricht has been referred to as the modern day Pablo Escobar many times after his arrest, a title befitting of a man who currently shares a prison with the infamous El Chapo.