Skip to main content

Ross Ulbricht appeals life sentence for running Silk Road drug market

Ross Ulbricht appeals life sentence for running Silk Road drug market

Share this story

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Ross Ulbricht, convicted earlier this year of running the Silk Road online black market, has filed an appeal after being sentenced to life in prison last week. Motherboard has posted the notice to the Second Circuit court of appeals, where Ulbricht is seeking to fight both his conviction and sentencing.

Ulbricht was arrested in 2013 after members of law enforcement infiltrated the service — accessible only through the Tor encryption network — and made over 100 drug purchases, gathering evidence about the site's sellers and operators. This eventually led them to Ulbricht, who accidentally released clues to his identity. The FBI also hacked into the market's Iceland-hosted servers, giving them access to even more information.

During the trial, Ulbricht attempted to have key details suppressed, particularly information from the servers, which he said had been broken into illegally. He also protested the court's decision to disqualify two expert witnesses and sought to bring up evidence from a separate investigation, which ultimately led to two federal agents being charged with trading information for money and embezzling frozen funds from the Silk Road.

These efforts, however, were unsuccessful. Despite calling for several mistrials over the course of the case, Ulbricht was convicted of seven counts of, among other things, money laundering and narcotics conspiracy. These carried a minimum of 30 years in prison, but Ulbricht was given the maximum sentence, leaving this appeal as his only option for freedom.