Silk Road 2.0, the illegal drug marketplace that cropped up to replace the original has been shutdown by the FBI and its alleged operator has been charged in Manhattan Federal Court.
You’ll recall that the original Silk Road was seized October 2013, and its proprietor Ross William Ulbricht was charged with various crimes including money laundering and hacking conspiracy. The marketplace existed for a long time behind the Tor network, which allowed buyers and sellers to setup deals with anonymity. By exchanging Bitcoin, the financials of the transactions were basically untraceable. If you were into drugs, Silk Road was the business.
So it’s unsurprising that it didn’t take long for replacements to crop up when the original died.
The complaint filed in Manhattan by New York District Attorney George Venizelo names Blake Benthall as the alleged operator of Silk Road.2.0, which the FBI calls ‘one of the most extensive, sophisticated, and widely used criminal marketplaces on the Internet today.” And if we’re to believe the FBI’s investigation, Silk Road 2.0 was huge: “As of September 2014, Silk Road 2.0 was generating sales of at least approximately $US8 million per month and had approximately 150,000 active users.”
Like its predecessor, Silk Road 2.0 was all about the drugs, but also offered a smattering of other badness. According to the complaint:
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.” Besides illegal narcotics, other illicit goods and services were openly advertised for sale on Silk Road 2.0 as well, including fraudulent identification documents and computer-hacking tools and services.
The accused is Blake Benthall, 26, of San Francisco. He is charged with conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking, conspiring to commit computer hacking, conspiring to traffic in fraudulent identification documents, and money laundering. He faces a ton of prison if convicted. [FBI via Motherboard and VentureBeat]