Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is set to serve life in prison after he lost his court appeal this week. Ulbricht earned seven convictions — including money laundering and narcotics conspiracy — for operating the drug marketplace in 2015, filing his appeal later that same year, and arguing it in court in 2016.
Ulbricht’s appeal claimed that the court should not have seen documents obtained in alleged breach of Fourth Amendment rights, and that it made mistakes during his trial process that should have led to a mistrial. Ulbricht — also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts” online — also contended that the lifetime sentence handed down by the judge was unreasonable, forcing him to spend longer in prison than others convicted of similar charges.
In this case, his sentence is unusually long due to a “kingpin” charge prosecutors were able to make stick — a conviction usually reserved for major cartel leaders designed to ensure they remain behind bars for the rest of their lives. While Ulbricht himself wasn’t a major drug dealer in the classic mold, the hefty sentence shows how law enforcement officials saw his Silk Road network, and how it helped to redefine the global narcotics black market.