Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht 'Dread Pirate Roberts' is sentenced to life in prison over 'dark web' marketplace

During the sentencing US District judge Katherine Forrest cited six drug related deaths that had occured from substances bought from the site

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The Independent US

The creator of online black market website, the Silk Road, has been sentenced to life in prison in the United States.

Ross Ulbricht, 31, from San Francisco, was sentenced to life in prison and ordered $183million (£119.7m) to be forfeited, by US District Judge Katherine Forrest.

In handing down the sentence, Ms Forrest told Mr Ulbricht that despite his  non-conformity to the typical profile – Mr Ulbricht holds two degrees – he was a criminal.

In this courtroom sketch, Ross William Ulbricht is seated in court and awaits sentencing Friday, May 29, 2015 in New York. (credit: AP/ Elizabeth Williams)

“It was a carefully planned life’s work. It was your opus,” she said. “You are no better a person than any other drug dealer.”

During the sentencing Ms Forrest cited six deaths from drugs bought through Mr Ulbricht’s site and also referenced his alleged efforts to arrange the murders of five people.

The government had alleged that Ulbricht had solicited the murders of people he viewed as rivals or threats to his enterprise but he was not convicted of any murder-related offences.

Mr Ulbricht's arrest in 2013 brought to a close what the prosecution described as an unprecedented one-stop shopping mall where the supply of drugs was almost limitless.

The Silk Road enabled nearly 4,000 drug dealers to expand their markets from the pavement to cyberspace, selling drugs on a never-before-seen scale to more than 100,000 buyers in markets stretching from Argentina to Australia, from the US to Ukraine.

"You were captain of the ship, Dread Pirate Roberts," Ms Forrest said. "It was a world with laws you created. It was a place with a lot of rules. If you broke the rules, you'd have all kinds of things done to you."

Before the sentenced was announced, Mr Ulbricht issued an apology to his friends and family, saying that he was devastated to lose his freedom.

Mr Ulbricht said: "I've essentially ruined my life and broken the hearts of every member of my family and my closest friends.

"I'm not a self-centred sociopathic person that was trying to express some inner badness. I do love freedom. It's been devastating to lose it."