Super Criminal from Silk Road

Ross Ulbricht is a super criminal like Lex Luthor in the Superman comics. Ross is the creator of the darknet trading post and web site known as “the Silk Road”. Named after the trade route of history that connected China and Europe, the Silk Road became an online black market where illicit goods could be traded anonymously and with some degree of privacy from law enforcement. Bitcoin was often used as a form of anonymous currency.

Most accounts of Ross describe him as very intelligent, a student of physics and engineering who became interested in libertarian economics and started the Silk Road as an experiment in activism to promote an extreme vision of complete freedom from government intervention. An experiment in economic freedom is one thing, but the Silk Road eventually became a nexus of traffic in drugs, ID information and documents, pornography, weapons, and even murder for hire.

Lex Luthor is a fictional comic book character, with high intelligence, great inventive vision, and a desire to justify all his crimes as providing “the betterment” of humankind. More recently, the character named Raymond “Red” Reddington, on TV’s “Blacklist” is another super criminal with high intelligence, an ability to syndicate his efforts through networking with other criminals and a sociopathic indifference to the consequences of his actions.

Ross Ulbricht is at least a close match for most of those characteristics. He proclaims himself an innocent bystander and social experimenter while people actually died as a result of the wheels he set in motion. He discovered and promoted a new way to magnify criminal activity with few limitations by connecting evil actors with other evil actors under the protection of anonymity.

Silk Road essentially become a new free market form of organized crime. Since the FBI busted Ross and some of the other ringleaders at Silk Road and shut the site down, multiple replacements have sprung up, like Hydra heads. This new paradigm of crime seems to be here to stay, at least for the near future.

Silk Road Trial: Read Ross Ulbricht’s Haunting Sentencing Letter to Judge – []

Admitted and convicted Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht will spend the rest of his life in jail for creating a revolutionary website that made it easier and safer to buy and sell illegal drugs (along with just about everything else). Though Silk Road has been shut down by federal authorities, similar sites have sprung up like magic mushrooms after a rainstorm and, powered by block-chain technology, encryption, and sheer human desire and ingenuity will never disappear again. Governments can (and will) try like Canute holding back the waves to keep people from doing what they want. And like Canute, they will fail, especially when sites such as Silk Road let them do what they in a more peaceful and efficient way.

Is Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road’s pirate king, a mobster or a martyr?
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Who is Ross Ulbricht? A libertarian who championed internet privacy out of deep personal conviction, or a ruthless felon who appreciated that secrecy was integral to the successful operation of his multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise?

After the Silk Road supremo’s sentence to life imprisonment without parole was handed down on Friday, Manhattan US attorney Preet Bharara was under no illusions about the man who had been sniffling in the dock only hours before. “Make no mistake,” he declared, “Ulbricht was a drug dealer and criminal profiteer who exploited people’s addictions.”

It was a damning assessment of the rollercoaster life and times of the 31-year-old criminal genius who grew up in Austin, Texas, to become the mastermind behind the most notorious of online black markets.

The Dark Web Drug Lords Who Got Away – []

When Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without parole last Friday, the judge in his case made clear that her severe punishment wasn’t only about Ulbricht’s personal actions in creating the Silk Road’s billion-dollar drug market. As Judge Katherine Forrest told the packed courtroom, she was also sending a message to any would-be online drug kingpins who might follow in his footsteps. “For those considering stepping into your shoes,” she said, “they need to understand without equivocation that there will be severe consequences.”

But despite Ulbricht’s ultimate punishment, the lesson for anyone closely watching the Dark Web drug trade has hardly been one of inevitable consequences. As independent researcher Gwern Branwen has documented in an ongoing survey of more than 70 Dark Web drug markets created after Ulbricht founded the Silk Road, only five of those sites’ administrators have been arrested. For many of the others, the security model Ulbricht pioneered—using Tor and bitcoin to protect administrators, buyers and sellers—has successfully kept law enforcement fumbling in the shadows.

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