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.”
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.
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.
In a surprising change of events, Shaun Bridges, who was appealing his six-year sentence for his actions during the takedown of Silk Road, has decided to waive his rights to do so – hence the counsel has decided to dismiss the case.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business.
The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.
In her appeal, she confirmed that the records have been examined, the case law and relevant statuses that the motion was based on had been verified.
The prosecutor made sure to explore all the possible ways that could deter Bridges from having his appeal getting sanctioned.
The case focused on Shaun Bridges transferring bitcoins from Silk Road in order to have a suspect in the case and to prove the illegal transactions Silk Road had been making.
A victim named Curtis Green was produced in the court, who was later termed as a ‘surprise victim’ who came out of seemingly nowhere and has been making rather drastic claims.
The judge panel opined that the legitimacy of the victim is questionable, and there is no point in trying to include their statements in the plea agreement.
Continuing with his plea agreement, Bridges argued that the surprise victim or the judgment will in no way affect his plea agreement, as it belongs to a different part of the law.
He further argued that the losses incurred during the alleged Bitcoin theft from Silk Road has been significantly increased, leading to the large sentence.
Bridges is not the first investigator to be accused of Bitcoin theft.
He is the second person, as the first complaint was filed against Carl M. Force – a special agent who worked with the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Administration. He decided to plead guilty in 2015. He was accused for the theft of $700,000 worth of Bitcoin with the help of his Baltimore team, and was sentenced to 78-months in prison.
Force and Shaun Bridges worked in the same team to take down Silk Road, a site on the dark web run by Ross Ulbricht, more commonly known by his pseudonym of Dread Pirate Roberts within the community.
It has been nearly four years since the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down the original Silk Road, and cases related to the infamous darknet market are still in development.
An Irish man who has been accused of playing a vital role in the administration of the Silk Road market planned another appeal to the Supreme Court after his extradition to the United States was ordered.
US authorities want 28-year-old Gary Davis of Johnstown Court, Wicklow to face trial on charges of distributing narcotics, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit computer hacking.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business.The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.
If Gary Davis were to be convicted in the United States, he faces the possibility of a life sentence.
Davis was indicted by the United States government in 2014 following the takedown of the Silk Road darknet market.
He has been out on bail since he was apprehended in January 2014.
His appeals have mainly focused on the fact that he suffers strongly from Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.
Going by the details of the formal charge by the Dublin High Court, Gary Davis was accused of being a Silk Road administrator under the pseudonym “Libertas.” Silk Road is said to have enabled the dealing of drugs including but not limited to crystal meth, crack cocaine, marijuana, and cocaine.
Allegedly, Gary Davis received a weekly sum of $1,500 as compensation for his services at Silk Road.
This is according to a payment log discovered in a computer belonging to the incarcerated Silk Road founder, Ross William Ulbricht.
Davis’ responsibilities at Silk Road included addressing vendor queries and indexing the drugs for sale on the darknet market.
Two other administrators of the Silk Road, Andrew Jones (Inigo) and Peter Nash (SSBD), were also indicted by the FBI.
An Irish High court ordered for his extradition in August 2016.
The latest triumph for the US Drug Enforcement Agency involves the arrest and conviction of three high-profile Silk Road drug vendors.
The three, Julian Villa-Gomez Lemus, Fadhle Muqbel Saeed, and Alfonso Bojorquez were arraigned in a Florida court where they pleaded guilty of drug distribution using darknet markets such as Silk Road.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.
31-year-old Lemus was the last of the three to be convicted within the same week for near-similar crimes that involved the sale of illicit substances.
Although they were all pinned for a catalogue of slightly dissimilar charges, the trio was ultimately linked to a similar charge, and that was the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
It was a good week for the DEA, who spearheaded the investigations with the help of the now highly-resourceful USPIS, and the state of California where the three Silk Road drug vendors resided.
The Trio was Involved in a Drug Distribution Conspiracy
Each of the three Silk Road drug vendors was indicted on two counts, the first one being the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances such as marijuana, hydrocodone, and also methamphetamine.
The apparent associates were also charged with aiding and abetting each other and other drug vendors and criminals that remain unknown to the court.
Initially charged with the conspiracy to distribute only the three aforementioned substances, a subsequent announcement from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida revealed that the group was also heavily involved in the sale and distribution of steroids and cocaine as well.
The announcement revealed that the three were part of a drug trade that spread across the United States and some parts of Australia.
The Three Silk Road Drug Vendors Considered “Heavy Hitters” in the Digital Drug Trade
Based on the DEA’s testimony before the federal jury in Orlando, Florida, the trio was not a small-scale drug cartel.
They ran a massive drug empire using Silk Road as just one of their platforms, and, according to the DEA, had carried out a total of 1,300 transactions up to the point of arrest.
Purported to have started their operations back in October 2012, the trio had amassed a total of $1.9 million in their years of operation.
In addition to the upcoming sentences for the three, they will also have to forfeit the proceeds of their drug operation, which may be equivalent to the above-stated amount.
Questions Raised Over the Indictment of the Three Silk Road Drug Vendors
The indictment has sparked a lot of interest on Reddit (/r/DarkNetMarkets), with a lot of questions revolving around Fadhle Muqbel Saeed.
Arguably, most of the controversy is centered on why this particular Silk Road drug vendor, despite his numerous aliases on different darknet markets, had gone unnoticed by law enforcement for so long.
Consequently, the general consensus was that the government should have made the arrests a lot earlier considering the scale of the operation ran by the three convicts.
As a result, it took a substantial amount of time to go through all these three men’s associated cases.
For instance, Saeed’s profile came attached to three different monikers from three different darknet markets.
He went by the nicknames “darkexpresso,” “Damien Darko,” and “bonappetit” on his various accounts.
He was also ranked among the top 11% of drug vendors with 100% positive reviews on Silk Road, and had conducted an upwards of 300 transactions on Silk Road in the short span of a year.
Sentences to be Delivered Shortly
The six-count indictment holds a maximum sentence of up to 20 years for each of the men in a federal prison.
The men will be awaiting their respective sentences, which will be delivered on the March 23rd, 2017 according to Attorney A.
Lee Bentley the Third. The charges for all three men involved both their state of residence, California, and Florida where the hearing has been taking place.
The USPIS has been credited for being instrumental in the DEA’s investigation, which was set into motion on the May 11th, 2016 after being signed off on by the necessary authorities.
A charity organization known as American Black Cross was recently formed to help U.S. political prisoners attain freedom; the group says their inspiration came from Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht’s case; many people still believe he’s a political prisoner jailed for victimless crimes.
Bitcoin users are encouraged to donate towards their noble cause which champions the release of such unfairly imprisoned people.
All contributions will help in fighting the war on drugs, victimless charges and also promote overall internet freedom.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.
Ulbricht was given a double life imprisonment sentence for hosting Silk Road, a darknet marketplace that dealt in prohibited drugs.
The war on drugs has ruined the lives of many individuals and their families.
It started in the 1980s when the government launched a campaign dubbed “Say No to Drugs,” this operation saw the U.S. prison population multiply by up to 5 times.
Statistics show that around 86% of the entire population of prisoners in federal incarceration are jailed for victimless crimes; these charges include drug offenses, public disorder and other illegal activities that don’t infringe directly on other citizens’ rights.
Ross Ulbricht is the most widely recognized figure arrested for a victimless crime; he was arrested in October 2013 for operating the Silk Road drug marketplace.
Despite his incarceration, many cryptocurrency users and those within the libertarian communities hold it that Ross’ trial lacked fairness, plus the prison sentence was quite extreme.
Apart from receiving a double life sentence, the Silk Road founder was also not given a chance for parole.
Ulbricht’s family believes their son was hurriedly prosecuted without any solid evidence from the government on the Silk Road case; they claim it was a legal atrocity and have since been campaigning for his release, including millions of other people who have been jailed for victimless crimes.
Ross’ family has fully endorsed American Black Cross; they recently reminded well-wishers at the end of 2016 that one of the ways they can help Ulbricht is by making tax-deductible donations to the organization.
Founded in 2015, the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit charity organization’s main goal is championing the rights of U.S political prisoners, a class of individuals that’s rapidly growing by the day.
The institution accepts payment in various forms such as bitcoin donation and credit card transfers; all funds are channeled towards legal aid as well as defense funding for criminal charges where certain civil rights have been denied.
Political prisoners or their respective families can submit their requests for help from the charitable organization.
If you’re facing a victimless indictment similar to the Silk Road, or represent a person who was imprisoned while resisting the federal government, Black Cross can offer some assistance, especially if you believe the case might have a greater impact beyond the litigants’ interests.
All submissions would be checked by the Review Committee for consideration, and if they believe your case is strong enough some assistance or funding will be provided.
The American Black Cross consists of a group of volunteers and human rights activists, whose main goal is to defend the prisoners of American Imperium such as Ross Ulbricht of Silk Road, promote humanitarian relief and also abolish the nation’s industrial jail systems.
According to them, Black Cross acts as a civil liberties protection organization, focused on defending those who’ve opposed repressive government policies via the internet.
Their recent plan currently is committing funds towards assisting the legal efforts of the incarcerated Silk Road creator.
The organization considers Ulbricht’s conviction bitterly unfair and is actively involved in helping him with the ongoing appeal.
Political cases like that of Silk Road have a tendency of shaping precedence in future rulings; that’s the reason why many people in the cryptocurrency community are supporting Ulbricht and Free Ross organization.
Various aspects of the case including investigations, arrest, server shutdown and even double life sentencing leave a lot of questions to be asked.