Silk Road Trial Closes: Prosecutors Claim Ross Ulbricht Never Abandoned Website

The trial of alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, who’s been charged with drug trafficking and money laundering, is concluding.

A photo of Ross Ulbricht provided by his family. Photo: Ulbricht Family

A photo of Ross Ulbricht provided by his family. Photo: Ulbricht Family

Infamous Silk Road operated from at least January 2011 until October 2013, when authorities seized it and arrested Ross Ulbricht, its mastermind. Prosecutors say that by that time, Silk Road had profited about $213.9 million in sales and $13.2 million in commissions. Being on trial in Manhattan federal court, Ulbricht acknowledged the fact that he created Silk Road, where it was possible to buy illegal drugs and other goods using bitcoins. But according to Ulbricht’s lawyer, the website was sold and his client was the victim.

Narcotics trafficking conspiracy is one of seven criminal charges that Ross Ulbricht is facing.

Serrin Turner, the prosecutor, claimed on Tuesday that the man who launched the website called Silk Road didn’t abandon the company before it was shut down. Moreover, Turner spoke about the “mountain of evidence” taken from Silk Road servers and Ulbricht’s laptop that proved the fact that the website was ran by Ulbricht who used the alias Dread Pirate Roberts.

“He built it, he grew it, he operated it from start to bottom until the end, when he was arrested logged into the website as its mastermind,” said the prosecutor.

But Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s lawyer, said files linking the defendant to the website were planted through hacking by the real Dread Pirate Roberts, who lured him back in at the end.

“It was easy to reconstruct this in a way that would frame Mr. Ulbricht,” Reuters reports Dratel’s words.

Dratel also pointed to a friend’s testimony that Ulbricht in November 2011 claimed to have sold Silk Road. The lawyer claimed the site was obviously administrated  by someone else as Dread Pirate Roberts.

“The Internet is not what it seems.”

Joshua Dratel insisted on distrusting some evidence because “you never know who precisely is on the other side of that computer screen,” claimed the lawyer. He also noted that the trial’s first witness  created dozens of identities on Silk Road.

In addition to that, Mr Dratel spoke about some mysteries that hadn’t been discussed before.  His main question regarded the  Silk Road’s money.  A former agent traced more than 700,000 bitcoins to Ulbricht’s laptop. Only 144,000 bitcoins were found on his PC. Then,  another fact: two files with PHP code and a to-do list found on Ulbricht’s computer were  marked as the evening of October 1, 2013—hours after his arrest.

“These are metadata anomalies the government doesn’t even try to explain,” claimed the lawyer.

The prosecutor Timothy Howard’s response was clear and understandable:

“The defendant cannot escape the fact that he was caught with his fingers on the keyboard. He was caught redhanded.”

Addressing to the jury, Mr Howard asked not let the defendant “insult your intelligence” claiming that the evidence can show  that “the defendant’s wild conspiracy theories don’t hold water.”

Judge Katherine Forrest said the jury deliberations are to begin on Wednesday.

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