In a boost to the government’s efforts to clamp down on cybercrime, a federal jury has found Ross Ulbricht guilty of running Silk Road, an online drug bazaar described by prosecutors as the most sophisticated criminal marketplace on the Internet.
A jury of six men and six women found the 30-year-old California man guilty of creating and operating a site that started off by selling homegrown illegal mushrooms and eventually swelled into a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise. Prosecutors say Silk Road offered illegal goods such as cocaine, fake driver’s licenses and computer-hacking tools to thousands of buyers.
Ulbricht was found guilty of all seven criminal charges, including narcotics-trafficking, money-laundering and computer-hacking conspiracies. He faces life in prison.
The three-week trial in Manhattan federal court offered a rare window into the kind of business transactions that took place on Silk Road, which was shut down by government officials in October 2013 after almost three years of operation.
The site operated on a hidden part of the Internet called the Tor network, and the website’s only accepted form of payment was bitcoin, an anonymous digital currency. Prosecutors said Ulbricht, operating under the online pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, went to great lengths to protect the site’s anonymity, accusing him of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to solicit the murders of people who threatened to reveal any Silk Road user identities.