Creator Of Silk Road 2.0 Did Double The Business, Sentenced To Only Five Years In Prison

from the that's-like-three-lifetimes-in-the-US dept

In 2015, the man behind darknet drug marketplace Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, received two consecutive life sentences from a New York judge. Her rationale was that Ulbricht was no different than a “dangerous Bronx drug dealer.” No leniency was given. The government, which participated in its own share of misconduct during the investigation, argued Ulbricht should be personally financially-responsible for every drug transaction on the Silk Road: a total of $184 million.

The government got its win — all of it. But it was only temporary. Silk Road 2.0 swiftly took the original’s place, run by another young man who knew he was going to be pursued by law enforcement across the world as soon as he fired it up. Long before it was shut down, Silk Road 2.0 was double the size of the original Silk Road, proving once again that sellers and buyers of illicit substances will find each other, no matter how many roadblocks governments erect.

The operator of this marketplace was arrested in San Francisco — just like Albricht was. But that’s where their stories drastically diverge. For one, the person arrested in San Francisco was not the founder of Silk Road 2.0. That title belonged to Dread Pirate Roberts 2 (DPR2). That person, Thomas White, was arrested by the UK’s National Crime Agency.

Unlike Ulbricht’s prosecution — which played out in public thanks to our justice system’s presumption of openness — White’s prosecution occurred in secret, shielded from the public eye by UK law. White was arrested in 2014, but his sentence has only now been handed down. Ulbricht got two life sentences and $184 million in fees from a US court for running the Silk Road. The creator of Silk Road 2.0 — doing double the business of Silk Road 1.0 at its peak — is looking to be out of prison years before his inspiration sees freedom.

[A] court in Liverpool, England, sentenced Thomas White, a technologist and privacy activist, for crimes committed in part while running Silk Road 2 under the DPR2 persona, among other crimes committed under another persona. White pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering, as well as making indecent images of children, and was sentenced to a total of 5 years and 4 months in prison.

There’s your compare-and-contrast. In the US, drug crimes are the worst crimes. In the UK, crimes are crimes and the rehabilitation prisons can’t provide are recognized and people are sentenced accordingly. I’m sure the DOJ is marveling at this miscarriage of justice and wondering why they bothered pitching in with an investigation that only resulted in a 5-year prison sentence.

And where Ulbricht spent his time locked up pretrial, thanks to the government getting his bail denied because of two murder-for-hire charges it later dropped, Thomas White spent his time out in the open with access to a computer. As Joseph Cox points out, White was pretty well-known in the world of security research, thanks to contributions he made while awaiting trial and sentencing.

On Twitter he mused about security and privacy topics, and has appeared under his own name in articles in Motherboard, Forbes, and more as an expert on Tor and other subjects. He previously ran a website archiving large data breaches that anyone could download, including the MySpace breach, data from hacked affairs website Ashley Madison, and customer information from a Muslim-focused dating site called ‘Muslim Match.’

Our government argues lengthy sentences for drug cases are needed to deter others from drug dealing. Seeing how quickly the new Silk Road replaced Ulbricht’s version makes it clear lengthy sentences aren’t deterring anything. I’m not even sure the DOJ believes its own bullshit at this point. Prison is punishment and our system is set up to provide as much punishment as possible in every case. Other places in the world recognize the limited societal value of taking decades away from people for selling products people want to buy.

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Comments on “Creator Of Silk Road 2.0 Did Double The Business, Sentenced To Only Five Years In Prison”

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Anonymous Coward says:

"The operator of this marketplace was arrested in San Francisco — just like Albricht was. But that’s where their stories drastically diverge. For one, the person arrested in San Francisco was not the founder of Silk Road 2.0."
Who was arrested in San Francisco?
When were they arrested in San Francisco?

San Francisco. Is there no more mention of this person just to make sure there is no mr/mis-gendering?

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Like many politicians, many normal people also have no idea how to effectively use search engines. I commonly get asked by friends to find info that is found in twenty seconds via google when I know they just spent twenty minutes trying to find the same info. Knowing how to compose a proper search term string is one of the main issues people have, and being able to quickly parse the results from pages that don’t relate to what you’re looking for.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I would agree, but that wouldn’t occur to some folk. They might try just "silk road", then move on to "silk road usa", then maybe "silk road not white" and other strings we would consider silly when looking for this info, better truly never occurs to them. And don’t forget when people see search terms highlighted in the article (if/when they find it), they think the emphasis is in the article. Many folks simply don’t grok google. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

How did you get from mr/mis to
"Transphobic as hell…"
Are you a tranny expert? Psychologist?
"Transphobia is a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions toward transgender or transsexual people, or toward transsexuality"

That, is funny. How many billions of quantum leaps did it take to get from point A to point B? It certainly wasn’t a quantum leap.
I was just trying to be politically correct. I didn’t want to make a monster mr/mis-take.

I thought transgender people had their own unique identifiers that weren’t Mr/Mrs/Miss or Ms. Do you have a tranny complex? Would you feel better if I added Zis/Zat and ze ozer zing?

Perhaps you have a list of entitlements to be used to address our 57 varieties of gender? (Last I heard, late last year, there were 56 varieties. I thought adding one would be safe, but, according to google, there are now 63 varieties. Is this right Mr. google fu? Sorry, Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/Zis/Zat or ze ozer zing google fu)

Is this gender volume unique to humans, mammals, or does it apply to fish and all life on earth as well? Farmers, hunters, conservation officers, American Kennel Club and transphobics, just to mention a few, all need to know.

Roy Rogers says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Do you know the difference between a pedigree and a pedicure?

Do you know anything about wildlife management?

I distinctly remember being told that being LGB happens in nature and wasn’t just a human thing. Isn’t it logical to assume that LGBT happens naturally as well? I just can’t recall if there were any examples outside of the mammal kingdom.

If that is stupid shit, you’ll have to blame the LGB and sometimes T community for spreading that stupid shit.

CHK-CHK, Come on Trigger, lets go home

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

pointing out the factual issue that people who belong to the alphabetsoup group loose their damn minds whenever people not of their group say… well… anything really, is not a phobic response.

its no more phobic than pointing out other well known facts like, the sky is blue, the earth is round and water is wet.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘Our government argues lengthy sentences for drug cases are needed to deter others from drug dealing’

absolute load of bollocks! in the USA, there is nothing more important to prosecutors than not just getting the win verdict but in getting the so-called perp the maximum sentence possible! it’s almost as if there is a competition going on where the winner is the lawyer that gets the longest prison sentence for the person committing the same or very similar crime! talk about an ego trip! that is far more important than justice or the law and judges are now following on, giving the prosecutors whatever ridiculous sentence demanded! there can be no worse crime than murder and i appreciate that selling drugs in the amounts they are is tantamount to murder. selling the means is a bit different to performing the act of pulling the trigger or injecting the drug, so to get remanded like this is surely way OTT! then to have another person doing the same thing but on an even greater scale then punished in what amounts to a far, far lesser degree seems to just rub salt. the deterrent isn’t the thing, the winning of a ridiculous sentence here is!

Anonymous Coward says:

"Prison is punishment and our system is set up to provide as much punishment as possible in every case."

Let’s not forget the investments they have in the prison industry and how those investments must be continuously fed new customers.

Law writing, enforcement and maintenance should not be a for profit business.

The punishment thing is just another side of the sick and perverted human characteristics that are attracted to such activity. Perhaps a pych exam is in order for applicants.

Anonymous Coward says:

The UK could not give every drug dealer 10-20 year sentences ,
if they did so there would be no space left to put people convicted of serious violent crimes .
America has a large private prison industry which needs new customers
ie convicts .
Also uk judges know potential drug dealers will not be put off by the chance of being sent to prison .As long as there is demand and there is a large profit to be made there will always be drug dealers in every society .
At least some states in the us are making the sale of cannabis to adults legal and taxing it, rather than spending more tax payer money building prisons .
Some public trials in the us are almost a PR exercise designed to show
we will give certain people the maximum sentence for certain crimes .
Judges and prosecuters in the uk do not run for political office
so trails are designed to sentence people for the crime they committed
not as some kind of PR exercise .
So i,d say the justice system in the uk is more balanced and fair
than the system in the USA which seems to be more influenced by
political considerations .

Anonymous Coward says:

Yes, "cybersecurity" experts tend to be criminals who, at least for now, have been preying on corporate ignorance and malfeasance to find work.

Try the #infosec hashtag on Twitter, start observing and archiving, and your eyes will open very quickly. These people think they’re above the law. If you really want to see what they’re like, watch what happens when someone offends them.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Our government argues lengthy sentences for drug cases are needed to deter others from drug dealing. Seeing how quickly the new Silk Road replaced Ulbricht’s version makes it clear lengthy sentences aren’t deterring anything.

There’s nothing "clear" at all about that, given that DPR2 was not operating withing US jurisdiction…

Anonymous Coward says:

For profit prisons = seeing public as potential revenue streams

So the profit based privatized (corporate owned) prisons in the US result in skewed priorities.

Prosecutors have to continually feed the system they created if they want to advance (are we sure there aren’t ‘paid per convict year’ bonuses going out under the table to some of the top prosecutors?). I’m just saying, we don’t "KNOW" that the prisons aren’t paying to acquire new revenue sources, now do we? I heard it was a thing…

Or at least it’s a hypothetical about why prosecutors overreach (aside from fragile ego’s that can’t handle loss) that could be happening somewhere. Don’t believe me, prove me wrong? Show that this has never happened (a prison corporation paying bonuses or providing complimentary trips or seminars…)

Anonymous Coward says:

"In the US, drug crimes are the worst crimes."

If you read the sentencing document and the judges comments on DPR’s actions you see that he didn’t get that sentence because ‘in the US, drug crimes are the worst crimes’, he got is because in the US, defiance against the state is the worst crime.

The judge was pretty clear she hammered him not because of the drugs but because his system undercut the power of the US government by providing a place where people could do things deemed illegal by a politically connected minority with near impunity.

He was hammered because he offered a way to live (at least partially) outside that system of central control. A system that is that judges bread and butter.

Don’t fuck with a powerful person’s bread and butter.

stan (profile) says:

FYI on Ross Ulbricht- He hired people to kill somebody

Ross Ulbricht got those two life sentences because he hired people to kill one of his staff members that had been flipped by LE. Ross knew about the arrest and asked one of his interested customers if they could handle it for him. They were LE posing as a major cartel trying to purchase Silk Road. He didn’t get two life sentences for just trafficing.

Reader1 (profile) says:

FYI on Stan--His Comment Demonstrates His Lack of Knowledge

Stan–wouldn’t it make sense to possess some knowledge about the topics you comment about? Seems logical. Ross Ulbricht’s absurd sentence had ZERO to do with murder for hire charges. He was never charged with that crime because he never committed said crime. The prosecution concocted that tale then leaked it in order to sway public opinion about Ulbricht. There were no charges because fiction provides no evidence.

Stop spreading nonsense online. I suggest you learn to read so you can become an active participant in the acquisition of knowledge. Perhaps you already possess the ability to read but your an agent of misinformation? Either way, you appear to be an idiot at the very least.

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