Stossel: Silk Road Founder Jailed, Drug Sales Up

People applauded when government shut down the drug website Silk Road. But online drug sales increased.


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The FBI announced a big victory: they had shut down the illegal online drug market Silk Road.

They said that would prevent drug sales and save lives. A judge sentenced Ross Ulbricht, a young libertarian who created the website, to double-life plus 40 years with no chance of parole. The judge called her sentence a "warning to others."

Bill O'Reilly agreed, "Life in prison without parole. Any other wise guys want to do it, that's what you are gonna get!"

But is it really fair to lock Ulbricht up for life? John Stossel interviews Lyn Ulbricht, Ross's mom, who says her son was just an overly-zealous libertarian who "believed in free markets and volunteerism. He's not a dangerous person."

Closing Silk Road and locking Ulbricht up, did nothing to stop drug sales. Silk Road carried 12,000 drug listings when the FBI shut it down. Now the top sites combined have more than 100,000 listings.

Stossel points out that as long as drugs are illegal, whatever the police do, only drives the price of drugs higher. The big profits then encourage sellers to take bigger risks. The same thing happened during alcohol prohibition. Police cracked down, but smugglers found a way. They also funded organized crime.

Now drug prohibition funds crime, and authoritarians pretend the solution is long jail sentences. Jails are filled with people like Silk Road's creator, a smart libertarian nerd who said he wanted to "use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion."

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