WATCH: Silk Road, Online Freedom, and Why the Prosecution of Ross Ulbricht Should Worry Us All


Download Video as MP4

Carl Mark Force, one of the DEA agents responsible for the takedown of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, pled guilty to the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin earlier this week, as Nick Gillespie noted here.

Exactly how much bitcoin Force stole during his time as a DEA agent is unclear, but on top of the money laundering, he is charged with multiple conflicts of interest, including one for inking a $240,000 movie deal about the Silk Road with 20th Century Fox. 

Sentencing won't take place until October, but as Ars Technica reports, chances are slim that he'll receive anything close to Ulbricht's life sentence:

The plea deal doesn't include a specific sentence. The maximum sentence for money laundering is 20 years. Force has agreed to pay about $500,000 (£320,000) in restitution, according to his attorney. Around $150,000 of that has already been paid

Click the video above to watch Reason TV's interview with Ulbricht's mother about why her son's prosecution should worry us all.

Originally posted on November 26, 2014. Original text below:

"I am fighting for my son," says Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of 30-year-old Ross Ulbricht, who faces life in prison as the alleged creator and operator of "Silk Road," an illicit online marketplace that was shut down by the feds last year. "But [this fight] is bigger than Ross, and I think one website is far less dangerous than the government trampling on our rule of law and the consitution."

Ulbricht sat down with Reason TV's Nick Gillespie to talk about why she believes the government's case against Ross broadly violates his constitutional rights and threatens online freedom.

For more on Ross Ulbricht and the government's case against Silk Road, read Brian Doherty's feature story in the December 2014 issue of Reason magazine, "How Buying Drugs Online Became Safe, Easy, and Boring."

Shot and edited by Jim Epstein; additional camera Anthony L. Fisher.

About 22 minutes.

Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to get automatic updates when new material goes live.

NEXT: WATCH: 4 Takeaways from SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I know for a fact that I am 67% safer now that Ulbricht has been put away for life!

  2. …he is charged with multiple conflicts of interest, including one for inking a $240,000 movie deal about the Silk Road with 20th Century Fox.

    None of them have pure motives. Prosecutors and federal agents have r?sum?s to fill, and judges have personal slights to avenge, and senators have need of causes to get them front and center in before cameras.


      1. Yeah, of the fallen variety…

        1. Low-ranking fallen variety.

          nb. “Sympathy For The Devil” and succeeding books by Holly Lisle.

  3. If Ulbricht doesn’t get a new trial out of this, then the system is more than just broken.

    1. My understanding is the Feds convicted Ulbricht without any of the evidence tainted by the corrupt agent. If that is true then the chances of him getting a new trial are slim.

      1. The judge allowed innuendo that he tried to hire the dea agent as a hit man without allowing the defense to present evidence of that agents’ criminality, which at the least raises doubt about his accusation of murder for hire.

        It should be reversible error.

      2. Isn’t the problem here a complete lack of precision in determining “who” is actually doing what, when, where and how (thereby engaging in assumption after assumption and embarking on wild generalizations) — plus the evidentiary issues pertaining to both content and process (ie: what information was obtained and how, and, what information was allowed as evidence and why)?

        Seems to this observer there were fundamental violations of natural justice, of constitutional rights, due process, stare decisis, rules of evidence — and that’s just from a cursory glance. Add to that the complicating factor of trying to accurately identify ANYBODY, ANYWHERE, DOING A CERTAIN ACTION, AT A CERTAIN TIME — via the internet/dark web — and one gets an idea of just how slippery this slope is.

        On the face of it this trial seems to have been a gross miscarriage of justice up to and including the sentencing. Clearly not defending the slaughtering of animals or abusing of children, etc. etc. For this observer those and other “dark” aspects of the human condition had nothing to do with this case per se. Otherwise we would pretty much have to indict tens of millions wouldn’t we — in the sense that many (business/professional) people have engaged in activities that might have inadvertently led to untoward/unintended consequences? Wouldn’t here would be widespread ramifications?

        Have we met the enemy — and it IS us.

        There are some serious issues here that merit closer attention.

        1. Correction: The end of the 3rd last paragraph should have read: “This conundrum would probably have widespread societal ramifications.” And, there should be a question mark after the 2nd last paragraph.

          First time user … with limited intelligence.

        2. Correction: The end of the 3rd last paragraph should have read: “This conundrum would probably have widespread societal ramifications.” And, there should be a question mark after the 2nd last paragraph.

          First time user … with limited intelligence.


    1. Throw some poutine in there for lubrication.

      Belated Happy Dominion Day, Rufus! Er….Canada Day. Sorry….flashback….

      1. Dominion Day.

        /looks back longingly.

      2. You can use bananas if you’re out of grease.

  5. I have no comment.

    1. Yeah ya do

    2. Paranoid or something?

    3. There is a special place in hell for the comment I would have made.

      1. Go on….

        1. That’s all I’ve got.

          1. You’ve done more than enough.

          2. Here is something for you.


          3. But let’s not concern ourselves with questions of speech and the chilling that might entail investigating it.

          4. If anyone actually watched the video, he would’ve learned that Reason is guilty for hosting Rhywun’s and the others’ murderous comments. Maybe Matt and Nick can run this awesome site from a prison cell.

      2. 7th, 8th, or 9th circle, since pretty much all apply.

        I personally vote for 9th.

  6. The Creature Walks Among Us is on Svengoolie. Anyone who doesn’t have a fetish for hot chicks in 1950s one piece swimsuits, rubber swim caps and 1950s vintage diving gear (two hose regulator, giant glass diving mask, tank harness, giant rubber swim fins etc) is a fuckin’ homo, nttiawwt.

    1. “two hose regulator, giant glass diving mask, tank harness, giant rubber swim fins etc”

      Ahh, yes.. a simpler time, fraught with adventure and danger.. and chronic/catastrophic equipment failure.. and decompression sickness.. and arterial gas embolisms.. and nitrogen narcosis.. Those were the days.. Advances in materials, and engineering have taken all the thrill out of diving.. all of the challenge..

      1. Women in peril + rubber. I could go all Agile Cyborg on the topic but then this a is a family comments.

        On an unrelated note, what would you buy for a new/late model used sporty car in the $25-35k range (before TTL)? My frugal and practical side is leaning hard towards a new base WRX. I can afford a new WRX STI base but at that point the Nissan 370z sport and Mustang GT w/ sport package both look better, especially the ‘stang because those 370zs depreciate like a falling rock and I can get a late model Z for well under $30k. My instincts are screaming go conservative on the high residual value/low price base WRX and trade it in 2-3 years for something cooler and more eXtreme!!! if my current income stays the same or continues to rise. I’m paying cash no matter what. Financing a car is for degenerate losers with no priorities who make rent-a-wheel a profitable business model.

        Car must be manual trans. I’d love a Miata but not enough space and underpowered. I’m boycotting FRS/BRZ because car (with not enough space) is either too heavy (by 400lbs), too expensive(by $4k) or too underpowered (by 40hp).

        1. 2005 WRX STI. Buy it and then upgrade it properly…

          Next question

        2. WRX STI are mostly kick ass, and the one I’d have , if I could fit in it… The RX-8 twin turbo is are cool, if you can find one that hasn’t had the shit kicked out of it. Mustangs are cool, if not played out.. most used ones have been beaten savagely.. and insurance is brutal. Buy a truck, and refuse to give a shit as to what happens to it.

          1. FWIW, I can give high marks to the new aluminum F150 w/ V8 and Dodge Ram V8 (except the quad cab backseat is useless) for both on and off road uses, right up until you absolutely need knobby 10 plies and 4wd. Overtime and a sat phone offsets the shortcomings quite well when you’re looking at cut sidewall flat tires 30 miles from a named road.

            1. “Overtime and a sat phone offsets the shortcomings quite well when you’re looking at cut sidewall flat tires 30 miles from a named road.”

              Being drunk.. and/or around twilight adds to the thrill and excitement.. My little slice of FL has some rather inhospitable locations as well..

        3. Thanx for the input. I’m looking new or late model used so most of these suggestions aren’t quite what I’m looking for. My current ride is a 16 y/o homologated factory race car I bought new but I don’t want to throw more money at it and want something I can do reliable cross country vacations in for a few years. I drive rental/fleet pickups and SUVs for my job and can use them for much of my DD needs as well. I’m not what you’d call a “commuter”.

          1. “new/late model used sporty car =/= ” something I can do reliable cross country vacations in for a few years”

            For comfort, it seems like a touring car, like a used Cadillac ATS/CTS -V series, or a beemer would be better for something that, in that price range.. I don’t know..

            1. Cadillacs suck. Luxury isn’t standard, you have to pay extra to get real leather, navi, sunroof and decent sound system. Oh, and pay for that awd too. Cadillac is a former shell of what it used to be.

              1. Sooo.. “Cadillacs suck”, because you get what you pay for? Yeah.. you’re right, avoid the stripped models..

              2. Cadillac is a premier American Marque and would have easily survived the bankruptcy that GM so richly deserved. Cadillac and Corvette
                (and Camaro) are the only reason I appreciate the continuing existence of GM.

            2. I don’t need comfort. I like NVH. I’m actually a little worried my next car won’t be stiffly sprung with noisy tires and , most importantly, offer proper road feedback.

              1. In that case, I recommend this. Simple, reliable, and affordable…. with as much feedback as you can stand..

                1. No cargo space. That would make a nice work vehicle otherwise. Can’t get one through Enterprise on the company account though.

                  1. Yes, Enterprise is insufferable.. their inflexibility, coupled with their lack of selection and attention to the needs of their customer is atrocious.. Their casual indifference to feedback on the matter is just the icing on the cake.

                    1. They’re the Ford of the rental car industry:

                      “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.”

          2. I bought a Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track as my “Track Day with Training Wheels” car, i.e., something to learn on before I dropped a hundred large on a GT-R. At HPDE events, it’s balls-out fun. Bought mine new for $34K.

            6-speed manual available, RWD, much more mannerly around a circuit than a Mustang or Camaro, and mannered enough (leather seats, satnav, SiriusXM) that I can take the missus from northern Florida to the Keys or New Orleans without a squeak from her.

            1. I love the look of the Genesis. My anti-gook car prejudices are fed by the same car-mag culture that thinks that a rolling PoS fwd slow-ass un-disableable traction-controlled GTI is better than a AWD sedan w/ 268hp.

              DisclaImer: The 1st gen Tiburon was my 1st runner-up to my current ride. I don’t see 1st gen Tiboruns running. much less racing these days. Car had some AMX-worthy lines though.

        4. I greatly enjoy my old BMW 318ti. Not high-powered, but very nice overall. So I’d say check out smaller, late model BMWs. New they might be out of your price range, but for whatever reason they seem to depreciate quickly, so $25K will buy a really nice used one.

          1. BMW’s depreciate hard out-of-warranty because repair and maintenance costs are so high.Back in the mostly analog car days your advice would be very sound. It still would if I wanted a 10+ years used car. I have mild regrets over not buying a pre-Bangle used 3 -series about a decade ago.

            1. Actually, I’ve not found my BMW significantly more expensive to repair than my old Honda.* But it is a late-’90s model, not one with all the electronic doodads they come with these days.

              *One exception: they use special keys that can only be made at BMW dealers, and getting a new one cost me $80. And it’s not electronic in any way, just an odd, four-sided car key. But the car is fun to drive.

              1. That’s why. It’s a 90s model.

                Don’t try it with a new BMW.

                Verrrryyy expensive.

          2. A BMW is a social signal. “Looka me, I’m an asshole!”

            1. In Germany, BMW translates to “Bavarian Honey Truck”.

    2. I like big bushes and tan lines and no tatted-out whore looks.

      I didn’t know this until recently. I think I am sublimeny (sp?) rejecting the kewl shaved pussy tatted out porn heroin whore look of recent years.

      1. Palin’s Buttplug|7.4.15 @ 11:03PM|#
        “I like big bushes and tan lines and no tatted-out whore looks.”

        You’re a tired lying troll with daddy problems, turd. Fuck off. And I hope an explosive lands in your lap and goes off.

      2. No tats is good, hot chick w’ tats willing to fuck is fine, best of all is classy broad w/ discrete amateur (India ink/sewing machine needle) work she’s not ashamed of from her impoverished and/or jd origins. Navel piercings are a total disqualifier on any woman over 30.

        1. Jeez, another reason to stay on this side (Asia) of the Pacific. I haven’t had to deal with anything in the same zip code as what ya’ll are describing.

      3. I like big bushes and tan lines and no tatted-out whore looks.

        Unkempt bushes are repellant, Tan lines are acceptable.. pragmatic.. “no tatted-out whore looks” is a definite plus, as it used to be the gold standard.. I blame the patriarchy..

    3. First season of Sea Hunt is on DVD, and YouTube.

  7. Federal judges and prosecutors are selfless public servants toiling night and day to protect us from dangers we don’t even understand. Every single one of them is absolutely incorruptible. And their personal hygiene is completely above reproach.

    1. How does that KoolAid taste?

      1. You didn’t get the Simpson’s reference, did you?

  8. It’s now several hours before the Greeks waste time at the polls to provide ego-strokes to their lefty PM, and (they presume) SEND A MESSAGE to those evil Germans who are “terrorizing” them (yes, the finance minister used that term) by not handing out more dough!
    Many are still populating the message boards warning the world of the disaster that awaits when they hold their breath and stamp their feet! ‘Cause history and stuff and other stuff and Marshal Plan and Nazis and WWII and who are those nasty Germans to tell them to get a job?!
    By this time tomorrow when they find the world is asking for a decent red with that pasta dinner, perhaps reality will sink in, but given the performance so far, it’s doubtful.
    Oh, and speaking of dinners: Harris Steak House and the trio that plays in the bar on weeknights. It ain’t cheap, but you GWYPF.
    Besides: LA reasonoids? The vid at the La Brea tar pits is amazingly balanced re: climate change. They could have pulled a man-bear-pig, but seemingly figured even the kids would have seen through it.

    1. It has to be, I reckon, factored into the markets by now.

      1. I think Tsipras went all-in about Tuesday and was amazed when the world yawned. Someone told him he and Greece mattered; they were wrong.

      2. Oh, and on the last trading day before the vote, the DAX was so concerned it lost……………..
        (wait for it)!

        1/3 of one percent….

        1. Saw that and wasn’t surprised.

          Banks write shit off all the time.

    1. Well she might be a cat herder…

    2. Roped? Put ’em back in chains! Slaves are happier in their chains feeling the whip.

      1. It’s not slavery if you get to vote for your master!

  9. Breet Pahrahrah is going to be so upset by this article that he’ll fuck two goats.

    Someone call the SPCA for an intervention.

    For the kids.

    1. Consider yourself narrowly gazed upon with a potentially Swiss flavor.

  10. How many chips can a woodchipper chip?

  11. I actually read Dante’s Inferno a couple of years ago. From what I read, there is indeed a special place in Hell for those who would pervert justice. It would seem to apply to US officials who were involved in this case. Perhaps Preet Bhahara should investigate that Dante fellow.

    Seriously, I cannot watch this video. It is just too tragic, and too sad. Not just for Ross, not just for his mom, but for what used to be America.

    1. One of the interesting tidbits of trivia I’ve heard about Inferno is that when Dante wrote it, not all the inhabitants he depicted as being in hell were dead at the time of the writing. Needless to say, the politicos thus portrayed were just as amused as Preet and Judge Woodchipper.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.