Last May, Ross Ulbricht lost the appeal against his 2015 convictions for money laundering, computer hacking and conspiracy to traffic narcotics as the creator of the notorious Silk Road website, also known as the “Amazon for illegal drugs”. Before the Silk Road was shut down, $180 million worth of drug trades had been made but new sites have since sprung up to replace Silk Road that dwarf the business that it once did.
This is a very well-made documentary which interviews some of the Federal investigators who solved the case, making it highly instructive of how the tiniest slips Ulbricht made online were used against him. Also interviewed are several of Ulbricht’s close friends, who never guessed that he was a major drug “King Pin’, especially as he lived a very modest lifestyle.
Ulbricht subscribed to Austrian Economics and to Anarcho-Capitalism. He claimed that what he was doing was a way to defuse the violence wreaked both by criminals and by the state. He once posted on the site’s forum, “What we are doing will have rippling effects for generations to come and could be part of a monumental shift in how human beings organize and relate to one another.”
The film would have been more fair to Ulbricht if it had told the story of DEA Agent, Carl Force (aka “Nob” in this film) and Secret Service Agent, Shaun Bridges who are being sentenced this month for defrauding both the government and Ulbricht of well over $1M in Bitcoin during the course of their investigations.