Silk Road

Government Insists Six People Died as a Result of Silk Road Drug Sales

Ulbricht lawyer Dratel asks for sentencing postponement, and wants to argue about lives potentially saved via Silk Road.


The government seems to want to squeeze the maximum penalty out of its February conviction of Ross Ulbricht for launching and running the darkweb sales site Silk Road, which was used to buy and sell illegal drugs, among other things.

Documents made public show the government insists that at least six people died from using drugs they obtained on Silk Road, and intend to bring parents of two of them to the sentencing hearing.

Because of this late-breaking revelation, Ulbricht's lawyer Josh Dratel wants the sentencing hearing, currently scheduled for May 15, postponed.

From Dratel's letter to Judge Katherine Forrest, in which he maintains the government has not properly proven that the deaths in question were definitely drug related and definitely Silk Road related, he also points out that the government's attempt to make those deaths maximize the punishment Ulbricht might receive ignore the unseen-by-them benefits Silk Road likely brought to many drug users:

the government's introduction of this issue – the Silk Road web site's alleged responsibility for certain deaths, whether or not from substances purchased from vendors on the Silk Road site – makes highly relevant a related issue: the extent to which the Silk Road web site reduced the dangers of substance abuse, and consciously and deliberately incorporated "harm reduction" strategies to implement that objective. In fact, the defense has been in contact with experts, researchers, and others regarding that subject matter, and those resources are preparing materials for the defense to submit as part of its sentencing presentation, which could well include their appearance as witnesses…. Due Process requires that Mr. Ulbricht be sentenced on the basis of accurate information, and the government's presentation of these alleged overdose deaths is clearly designed to influence the Court's sentence. Consequently, Due Process requires that Mr. Ulbricht be afforded sufficient time and opportunity to answer those allegations…

Document links via Ars Technica.

I wrote after Ulbricht's conviction of the enormous likelihood that Silk Road's existence saved and bettered far more likes than it harmed, if imagining a world in which it never existed.

My December Reason feature on the rise and takedown of Silk Road.

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  1. “Government Insists Six People Died as a Result of Silk Road Drug Sales”

    What about the thousands of deaths the gov’t is responsible for with that bogus war in Iraq?

    1. What about the thousands of deaths the gov’t is responsible for with that bogus war in Iraq on Drugs?

      No need to switch topics.

  2. Officials at the VA refused to comment.

  3. Far more people have died at government hands from the War on (Some) Drug Users, from SWAT raids on the wrong address, lying informants, and of course the birder guard who died from the Fast and Furious wepaons sent to the Mexican drug cartels.

    1. Birder guard? Does the Audubon Society have *those* kinds of enemies?

      1. You’ve never heard of stool pigeons? It’s a shitty business.

        1. I’m working my way down a list, soon it’ll be your tern.

    2. Let’s not forget the people who have died because they cannot go to law enforcement to enforce deals in the drug trade, so the entire trade has to rely on violence to enforce contracts.

      If drugs were legal, they wouldn’t be handled by criminal gangs with arsenals of weapons, but by boring people in suits.

  4. A rare Saturday nut-punch – thanks a lot. Just in case we didn’t think these drug warriors could be any more evil.

  5. 6 people eh – why that’s half of the people put to death under bad testimony from FBI forensic experts. I hate to see govt do a half-ass job.

  6. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is what- I do…… ??????

  7. Silk Road facilitated tens of thousands of drug transactions at which not a single gun was present. Not a single person participating in Silk Road drug purchases needed to fear being killed if a deal. Because the site contained it’s own enforcement mechanisms in the form of user ratings, and all exchanges were essentially anonymous, there was no means to even know who the person on the other side of the transaction was, thus ensuring the safety of both buyer and seller.
    Think of how many people would likely have died had those transaction taken place in real life, with real guns, in an environment where both sides have to fear being informed upon or ripped off.
    The fact is that Silk Road , by it’s design, took the violence out of an illicit trade and it did it without having an army of police officers to enforce it’s will.

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