Born in 1984 in Austin, Texas, Ross Ulbricht created and operated the Silk Road website under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” from 2011 until his arrest in 2013.
This platform, best known for selling illegal drugs, operated as a Tor hidden service that would enable the users to browse it anonymously and securely. Transactions on the site were carried out with bitcoin for privacy.
In 2015, Ulbricht was convicted on four narcotics charges and three charges related to money laundering, computer hacking and trafficking fraudulent identity documents. Furthermore, the original criminal complaints alleged that he paid to have two people murdered. The complaint accuses Ulbricht of hiring a Silk Road user to kill another user who threatened to expose the identities of thousands of the site’s customers. It also alleges that he sought to have another person murdered who he feared would give his information to the FBI.
Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole later in 2015, and is serving his sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona.
In 2016, Ulbricht and his family sought out a new trial in an appeal. They claimed that the court hid key evidence when trying him and also questioned the legality of the searches and seizures conducted during the investigation. This motion was denied by United States District Judge Katherine Forrest shortly thereafter.