A Baltimore man, Jacob Theodore George IV, has been sentenced to six years in prison for dealing drugs on the Silk Road marketplace.
George conducted business under the name “Digitalink” and sold heroin and the synthetic drug methylone. He was arrested back in 2012 and had been held at the Chesapeake Detention Facility, a high-security federal prison in downtown Baltimore, for 2.5 years. The time spent will be credited for his new term.
George reportedly has a history of arrests, drug abuse and mental health problems. He apologized to the judge, Catherine C. Blake, and cried as he confessed to the agents who caught him: “I made a bad decision helping with Silk Road.”
His arrest paved the way for a deeper investigation into Silk Road, a joint operation between the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. This eventually led to the arrest of its alleged operator, Ross William Ulbricht.
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While awaiting trial in prison, he reportedly suffered a severe beating after not allowing another inmate to use a jail phone. Yet, he also put his computer skills to use, building an online system for inmates to access information about their incarceration.
George’s attorney, Paul D. Hazlehurst, argued for a lighter sentencing in consideration of the fact that the venue for transactions was online. Therefore, he argued, there is a lower incidence of drug related violence. People in East and West Baltimore, who confront drug related violence every day, may feel that an online venue is safer.
But prosecutor Justin Shibayama Herring argued the internet allows people otherwise too timid to approach dealers on the street to get hooked on drugs. In addition, because the drugs still originate from their traditional sources, violence isn’t really lessened.
Judge Blake agreed that online drug dealing still carries risks of violence, but gave George a lighter sentence because he took responsibility for his actions.