Silk Road 2.0, the spiritual successor of the original online drug marketplace, has been seized by law enforcement. The FBI, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, arrested its alleged owner yesterday in San Francisco.
Authorities picked up 26-year-old Blake Benthall who allegedly went by the name Defcon. Authorities claim Benthall has been running Silk Road 2.0 since December 2013 on the Tor network. It went live roughly five weeks after the government shut down the original Silk Road and arrested its alleged mastermind, Ross Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts.
A report on the matter points out that Silk Road 2.0 was controlled by a co-conspirator using the same online moniker allegedly used by Ulbricht. Benthall took over administrative duties in late December and during the investigation, an undercover agent managed to join the support staff and gain access to restricted areas of the site and communicate directly with Benthall.
An investigation by the FBI claims that as of September 2014, the site’s approximately 150,000 active users were generating sales of at least $8 million per month. Last month, there were more than 13,000 listings for controlled substances like psychedelics, ecstasy, cannabis and opioids. Other items up for sale included fraudulent identification documents and computer hacking tools and services.
Benthall has been charged 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.