This morning the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office announced that the agency had arrested Silk Road 2.0 operator Blake Benthall, also known as “Defcon,” yesterday. Benthall is expected to appear before a San Francisco federal court later today.
Operator of Silk Road 2.0, Blake Benthall, arrested yesterday by FBI agents in San Francisco, CA
— FBI New York (@NewYorkFBI) November 6, 2014
In October of 2013, the FBI arrested the original Silk Road mastermind, Ross Ulbricht — also known as Dread Pirate Roberts. A month later, following the subsequent shutdown of the original Silk Road, a new Silk Road appeared and with it, a new Dread Pirate Roberts.
Like its predecessor, the Silk Road 2.0 sold illegal goods and services on the Tor network, generating millions of dollars each month.
As of September 2014, the dark marketplace was facilitating $8 million per month in sales among its 150,000 active users, according to the FBI. Silk Road 2.0 requires transactions to be made entirely in Bitcoin in order to maintain the anonymity of buyers and sellers.
The hottest commodities on Silk Road 2.0 were illicit drugs including psychedelics, cannabis, opioids, and Ecstasy — a whopping 13,000 listings in all.
According to the FBI, when Benthall first launched and began captaining Silk Road 2.0, he did so under Ulbricht’s “Dread Pirate Roberts” moniker. In December, he allegedly switched to the pseudonym “Defcon,” under which he ran all administrative duties for the site.
The FBI is charging Benthall with 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. Based on those charges, Benthall is looking at a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted.
In a statement, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:
“As alleged, Blake Benthall attempted to resurrect Silk Road, a secret website that law enforcement seized last year, by running Silk Road 2.0, a nearly identical criminal enterprise. Let’s be clear – this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison. Those looking to follow in the footsteps of alleged cybercriminals should understand that we will return as many times as necessary to shut down noxious online criminal bazaars. We don’t get tired.”
You can see the full complaint below: