Two months ago the second largest drug marketplace online disappeared, federal officials had once again successfully identified the owner of a popular online drug bazaar, shutting down the Silk Road 2.0 in November, nearly one year after the original Silk Road was shutdown. Tuesday, a Washington man was apprehended by authorities in a Seattle Washington Suburb, Bellevue, under the accusation of helping run operations related to the Silk Road 2.0.
In a complaint [PDF] dated January 17, 2015, federal officials said Brian Richard Farrell, 26, admitted to being the man behind the online alias “DoctorClu” on the Silk Road 2.0. When questioned about his affiliation with the Silk Road 2.0 leader, Blake Benthall, who ran under online alias “DefCon,” DoctorClu said he was Benthall’s “right hand man.”
According to the report issued, when federal agents asked if Farrell could help identify others related to the Silk Road 2.0 operation, Farrell told agents, “you’re not going to find much of a bigger fish than me.”
The United States has currently only charged Farrell with one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine.
Agent Michael Larson details how the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified Farrell behind the online alias:
Between January 2014 and July 2014, a source of information provided law enforcement with particular IP addresses that had accessed the vendor portion of SR2 [Silk Road 2.0]. A user could not accidentally end up on the vendor portion of SR2. Rather, SR2 administrators/moderators restricted access to the vendor portion of the site to vendors who had conducted a certain amount of transactions. In addition, a user required a username and password to access the vendor portion of SR2.
According to Larson’s report, Homeland Security investigators in Seattle received a lead on one of the IP addresses logged, and pulled Comcast records only to find that the IP address matched that address of one of the investigators’ cooperating witnesses. The cooperating witness, referred to as CW1 in the official complaint, was a roommate with Farrell at the time, and said “that he/she had learned about the Silk Road and the ‘dark net’ from FARRELL,” later adding he was a “computer wizard” and operated a server in their garage. Also in the complaint, CW1 claims Farrell “obsessively” tracked his packages online and “babysat” the mailbox for his personal packages.
Farrell’s roommate had also provided investigators with a bottle of Xanax pills (pain medication), that had been addressed under Farrell’s name. On January 2, 2015, agents were granted a warrant to search Farrell’s home. During their raid, agents seized “various computer media, various prescription medications, drug paraphernalia, silver bullion bars valued at $3,900.00 and approximately $35,000 in U.S. currency.”
DoctorClu was labeled as a senior staff member for the Silk Road 2.0, and described himself and Dread Pirate Roberts 2/DefCon as good friends and Benthall’s right hand man.
Lodged later in the complaint against Farrell, while federal agents questioned him, Farrell claimed that he had led a successful denial of service (DoS) attack on a Silk Road 2.0 competitor near the end of 2013, when the market was in full operation. After the successful attack Farrell was offered a position at the Silk Road 2 for a rate of about $750 per week, eventually racking up to around $1,750 per week. Farrell said he acted as Defcon’s spokesperson and other staffers would ask Farrell for permission if Benthall was unavailable at the time.
“Farrell said he did not have complete access to SR2, but that he could change passwords on the site,” the complaint claimed.
Shortly after the shutdown of the Silk Road 2.0 a Silk Road 3.0 appeared on the Tor Network, reports allege the drug marketplace is dumping Tor and moving to the I2P anonymity network.
Farrell currently awaits trial as more charges will assumingly rack up during his awaited time of sentencing.