Ross Ulbricht’s billion-dollar black market Silk Road was in many ways the first of its kind, blending encryption and online drug sales in a business model that plenty of other online drug lords have since sought to emulate, reports Wired. With Ulbricht's sentencing for running that massive narcotics-selling experiment set for tomorrow, the U.S. Justice Department wants to make an example of Ulbricht's punishment, too. Prosecutors asked the judge to give him “a lengthy sentence, one substantially above the mandatory minimum.” One reason, DOJ argues, is to “send a clear message” to anyone who would follow in Ulbricht's footsteps and create the next Dark Web drug market.
DOJ lists the details of six deaths it argues were caused by drug overdoses facilitated by the Silk Road's anything-goes drug sales. It rebuts the positive arguments about Ulbricht's character made by the defense, as well as 100 letters from friends, family, and even fellow inmates about Ulbricht's character, pointing to his cold-blooded recording of his attempted murders of enemies in the journal found on his laptop. It counters the argument made in the defense's pre-sentencing letter to the judge: That the Silk Road actually reduced harm for drug users with a rating and review system that assured drugs' quality and purity. Rather than reduce harm, prosecutors argue that rating system “provided a veneer of safety to an intrinsically unsafe business. Even if rated '5 out of 5,' heroin is still heroin,” their letter reads. “Indeed, praising Silk Road for including 'harm reduction measures' is akin to applauding a heroin dealer for handing out a clean needle with every dime bag.”