Today is the birthday of Ross William Ulbricht, who celebrates 36 years, of which the last 7 he spent in prison.
Let’s retrace the moments in his life and the events that led to his arrest.
Born in Austin, Texas, in 1984, Ross pursued his school career reaching a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in engineering, which led him to a steady job in 2009, but which he described as unsatisfactory for his life and career.
At that point, he decided to take the entrepreneurial path by selling used books online, but things didn’t get better, although the desire to do business online didn’t stop.
10 years ago, in 2010, he set out to create an online store by combining Tor’s protocol with bitcoin (BTC) payments and created Silk Road.
The store came to life in 2011, becoming a platform open to everyone for buying and selling anything while respecting the safety of others.
However, without any programming knowledge, Ross first had to ask his friend Richard Bates for help, who refused to get involved, and then a stranger, who later became the de facto administrator of the platform. He went by the name Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR).
Ross was, unfortunately, unable to prevent the platform from being used to sell drugs and other illegal products. Federal agents began investigating and their research led to a single suspect: Mark Karpeles.
Karpeles had all the necessary skills to manage and run such a platform, as he also managed the famous Mt. Gox.
Karpeles cooperated with the authorities, providing the name of Ross Ulbricht, the true creator of the entire platform.
In fact, even though Ross had relinquished control of the platform, he still had access to it. Ross was thus arrested as he was linked to his account; his laptop was seized to secure the evidence, and he was charged with various charges, from drug trafficking to arms trafficking and so on. This resulted in him being sentenced to life imprisonment.
There are certainly dark sides to the story and it seems that some data stored on Ulbricht’s laptop has been lost or, worse, replaced.
This very last theory brings a glimmer of hope to his release. A petition has also been launched – currently with about 300,000 signatures – to ask for clemency from the President of the USA, Donald Trump.
A few years ago, a detailed documentary on the Silk Road was also released: Deep Web by Alex Winter.