Online drugs marketplace Silk Road 2.0 shut down by the FBI while alleged operator is charged with narcotics trafficking

Guy Bentley
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Online drugs market shut down (Source: Getty)

The year old online marketplace where people can trade for drugs and other illegal goods Silk Road 2.0 has been shutdown by the FBI and European law enforcement agencies.

The FBI announced they had arrested a person they believe to be Defcon, the operator of the website. The 26-year-old Blake Benthall was arrested in his home city of San Francisco on Wednesday and will appear before a federal court today.

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.

Silk Road 2.0's staff was infiltrated by federal officers last year and the foreign server which ran the site was identified in May giving law enforcement access to a host of records.

The FBI claimed Silk Road 2.0 enabled over 100,000 people to buy and sell illegal drugs over the internet. The Bureau described the site as "one of the most extensive, sophisticated, and widely used criminal marketplaces on the Internet today". Silk Road 2.0 operated on the Tor network which conceals users identities.

As of September this year, Silk Road 2.0 was generating sales in bitcoin worth $8m per month with around 150,000 active users. Last year, US authorities shut down the original Silk Road, and the FBI arrested owner Ross William Ulbricht, 29, known as Dread Pirate Roberts, in San Francisco.

Ulbricht was charged with one count each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

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