The FBI in New York has announced the arrest of a San Francisco man they claim ran the online black market known as the Silk Road 2.0. The United States and European authorities worked hand-in-hand to seize control over the servers hosting the online drug bazaar.
After the shutdown of and seizure of the original drug marketplace, the Silk Road, a predecessor came into the limelight, the Silk Road 2.0, running a near similar drug marketplace on the deepweb.
Yesterday, the official Twitter belonging to the FBI confirmed that the alleged Silk Road 2.0 site operator, Blake Benthall, was apprehended in San Francisco California. Federal authorities say Benthall may potentially face life in prison.
Benthall, former employee at SpaceX, Elon Musk’s private rocket company was apprehended by federal authorities Thursday under the assumption to be the owner and operator of the infamous Silk Road 2.0.
An Irish newspaper reported another major online drug bust in Ireland, in part of what is being called Operation Onymous.
The Silk Road 2.0 was taken offline during its one year anniversary, starting in November 6, 2013 housing a marketplace for drugs, violence and other illicit services. Users trying to access the domain are met with an FBI and Europol warning noting the Hidden Services site has been seized by authorities.
The seizure of the Silk Road 2.0 servers comes only five weeks after the shut down of the original Silk Road in 2013, apprehending 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht.
In the FBI’s legal complaint, the Bureau claims Benthall’s unencrypted computer contained “address lists for customers all over the world that will be of significant interest to many global law enforcement agencies.”
Benthall is currently facing charges of one count of conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking, one count of conspiring to commit computer hacking, one count of conspiring to traffic in fraudulent identification documents, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. A number of the charges carry a minimum sentence of 15-20 years, Benthall may very-well face life in prison.
Silk Road 2.0 operated nearly identical to its predecessor, selling illegal goods and services on the Tor network to generate millions of dollars each month. According to the FBI, as of September 2014, one year after the sites opening, Benthall processed over $8 million in monthly sales.
Throughout September and October, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) purchased 0.5 grams of heroin, two grams of cocaine, 120 micrograms of LSD and ten Oxycodone pills from the Silk Road 2.0 for drug testing. Shipping the drugs to an undisclosed private address located in Manhattan, federal authorities tested for illegal substances, claiming each purchase tested positive for drugs.
The Silk Road 2.0 was acclaimed to have accumulated over 150,000 active users, making it one of the most active drug marketplaces online to date.
“The offerings on Silk Road 2.0 consisted overwhelmingly of illegal drugs, which were openly advertised as such on the site. As of October 17, 2014, Silk Road 2.0 had over 13,000 listings for controlled substances,” the FBI said in a press release.
“Silk Road 2.0 had over 13,000 listings for controlled substances, including, among others, 1,783 listings for ‘Psychedelics,’ 1,697 listings for’“Ecstasy,’ 1,707 listings for ‘Cannabis,’ and 379 listings for ‘Opioids,’.”
Federal agents say they tracked down Benthall administrating the Silk Road 2.0 from his own computer, using Bitcoin to process payments anonymously and making large cash withdrawals. The FBI cites one instance where he cashed out over $270,000 using $70,000 for a down payment on a Tesla Model S, a luxury car worth approximately $127,000.