How Silk Road’s Rogue Agents Got Caught

Carl M. Force and Shaun W. Bridges, former federal agents, were charged with money laundering, fraud and related offenses for stealing bitcoins during their investigations into the underground black market Silkroad.

Forty-six-year-old Force, who hails from Baltimore, was working with the DEA as a Special Agent and thirty-two-year-old Bridges from Laurel, Maryland, was working with the Secret Service as a Special Agent when they were both included in the Baltimore Silkroad Task Force for investigating the illegal activities being carried out by the darknet marketplace.

While the charges leveled against Force include stealing of government property, fraud, conflict of interest and money laundering, charges leveled against Bridges are money laundering and wire fraud.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Carl M Force
Carl M Force, aka Nob, aka French Maid, aka Death from Above, aka the DEA agent busted for a host of felonies during his investigation of the Silk Road.

How Was Carl Force Caught

By October 2013, Force had been with the task force team, investigating the Silkroad, for a couple of years. During the time he carefully involved in a number of lucrative bitcoin side projects.

One of his projects was ripping off the Silkroad founder, who operated under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” of bitcoins.

Force had by then extorted as much as 1,200 bitcoins from the Silkroad founder and opened an account with the Slovenia-based bitcoin exchange Bitstamp to turn the digital currency into cash. This action seems to have sealed his fate.

Force used his undercover name, Eladio Guzman Fuentes, he commonly assumed during investigations as a DEA agent and produced a driver’s license, Social Security card and proof of residence, all connected to the name to open the account.

His documents were passed on to George Frost, Bitstamp’s general counsel, who found out that they were all forged documents.

When Frost confronted Force, he showed his real ID, his badge, and a Baltimore water bill. Though Frost allowed Force to set up an account, he did not feel comfortable with it.

In November, Force made two large withdrawals from Bitstamp, worth $34,000 and $96,000 in bitcoins into his bank account. Suspicious Frost contacted FinCEN.

The officer he talked to at FinCEN was Shaun Bridges, who told him that the case would be referred to the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.

However, nothing happened. Force kept on transferring his bitcoin assets and even cleared his mortgage payment in full in December 2013.

Six months after the Silkroad founder was arrested, Force withdrew a large sum of $80,000 from Bitstamp in April 2014. Bitstamp employees observed that the IP addresses of Force were connected to Tor.

When asked about this, Force said that he used Tor for the purpose of privacy. In the last week of April 2014, when Force tried to withdraw $200,000 in bitcoins, Frost decided to freeze his account.

Frost then scheduled a meeting with Kathryn Haun, as assistant US attorney in San Francisco. She was the first cryptocurrency coordinator of the Department of Justice.

The meeting was also attended by Tigran Gambaryan, a special agent with IRS. Frost then told them about Force.

Gambaryan, who was aware of the tension between Silkroad investigation teams in New York and Baltimore, sensed that there was something more to the story than just rivalry between the agencies.

However, Haun and Gambaryan were not sure as to whether they should investigate Force’s behavior at all. But then, what made an investigation inevitable was Force’s subsequent action.

He contacted Bitstamp customer service and requested that all his transaction history be deleted.

While Gambaryan wanted to pull out Force’s financial records as well as the latter’s bitcoin activity and match them with transaction records that were already there in the Silkroad database under the government’s custody, Haun started her investigations from Shaun Bridges.

They had a conversation with Bridges through phone on May 6, 2014. His behavior set off alarm bells, and they decided to take Force’s case forward without Bridges’ help.

Gambaryan found out that Force used his undercover account Nob to get Ulbricht’s attention. He told the founder of Silkroad that he was interested in purchasing the website.

Ulbricht quoted $1 billion for the Silkroad site. After a few months, Force informed him that it was not cost-effective for him to do business in quantities below ten kilos.

The Silkroad founder wrote back to him saying that one of his staff would get back to him with the details of a buyer who can deal in large quantities. The buyer was Curtis Green, a Silkroad staffer.

He operated under the name “Flush” and was in charge of Silkroad Forums.

Green signed for a package containing 1 kg of cocaine that Force had arranged to be sent to him. When Green delivered the package to Force, he was arrested by a dozen of agents.

Green did a short stint in jail for cocaine possession, but he was brought out on bail and was questioned by the agents Force and Bridges for about 12 hours.

They asked him to spill out everything he knew about Silkroad, which he did. He even told them the password to his Silkroad account.

Later in the day, huge amounts of bitcoins were transferred to a Number13 account. Sellers on Silkroad also started losing bitcoins from their Silkroad accounts.

By the time the Silkroad founder realized this, as much as 20,000 bitcoins had disappeared.

Ulbricht thought Green was behind this and wanted to teach him a lesson. He turned to “Nob” for help, who was only too keen to oblige.

Initially, the Silkroad founder wanted Green to be beaten up but later on said that he should be executed. Nob demanded $80,000 for the job.

Green staged his own death and Nob got the payment. Force promptly handed over the money to the government.

However, Force had other ideas for getting money from the creator of Silkroad. He sent a message from his new account “Death From Above” to Ulbricht, saying that he was aware of the latter’s involvement in Green’s death. His aim was to get $250,000 from the creator of Silkroad.

Gambaryan found out that “Death From Above” is Force’s another account only because he had left a video footage of himself typing from the same account. Force’s extortion attempt failed as the Silkroad founder refused to pay him. Force then, acting as Nob, got Ross Ulbricht to pay him 400 bitcoins for counterintelligence information from a Justice Department employee Kevin.

Two months later, the Silkroad creator spent another 525 bitcoins. Force mentioned about the first payment in his report to superiors, but not about the second payment. However, a mistake committed by Ross helped Gambaryan to find out that the second payment went to Force’s another bitcoin wallet.

Force created another Silkroad account in the name of “French Maid,” offering information on the government’s investigation into Silkroad for $100,000 in bitcoins. The creator of Silkroad paid once again, and the money went into a personal account of Force.

Haun held a “proffer” session for Force along with Gambaryan. Force admitted to working as “Nob” and taking off bitcoins of the government. However, he acted as though he did it out of a big misunderstanding.

During the session, he also informed that he did not know anything about the accounts “French Maid” and “Death From Above.”

Gambaryan went through the vast Silkroad database once again and confirmed that Force was both “Death from Above” and “French Maid” from the particular version of PGP that he had in his e-mail signatures. Finally, Force was boxed in.

How Was Shaun Bridges Booked

Shaun Bridges
Shaun Bridges stole $820,000 worth of bitcoin and was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.

The investigation of Carl Force led to the apprehension of Shaun Bridges. In early December 2014, when Haun was getting ready to charge Carl Force, Gambaryan came up with a startling discovery.

He found out through Wallet Explorer, a smart Bitcoin block explorer that offers wallet labeling and address grouping service, that the second payment of 525 bitcoins was directly sent by the Silkroad founder (by manually cross-referencing his and Force’s bitcoin transactions) to another account.

This indicated the involvement of yet another person. Gambaryan investigated the matter further and started doubting whether Bridges and Number13 accounts were the same.

Haun and Gambaryan also found out that the stolen bitcoins have been sent to Mt. Gox exchange from the Number13 account. Gambaryan used a mutual legal assistance treaty procedure for accessing the financial records of the Japanese bankruptcy trustee.

The records showed money had been moved to a Fidelity account registered as “Quantum Investments” from the Mt. Gox exchange. Quantum Investments was found to be a company registered by Bridges in his name and home address.

Bridges resigned from his position in the Secret Service on March 15, 2015, and this suggested strongly that the other person involved in stealing the Silkroad founder’s and government’s money was none other than himself.

A proffer session was offered to Bridges also. However, he was unrepentant and arrogant during the session.

Charges were filed against both the Silkroad agents on March 30, 2015. Within one month, Bridges, and a few weeks later, Force, pleaded guilty.

Bridges and Force were sentenced to 71 months and 78 months, respectively, in prison.

While Force is serving his term in a federal prison located near Louisville, Kentucky, Bridges is in the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution in Indiana.

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Court Rules Extradition to US of Alleged Silk Road Admin

Last week, alleged Silk Road administrator, Gary Davis aka “Libertas,” has been ordered by a judge to surrender himself to the United States.

Currently, Gary Davis is a free man and is living in Ireland. He has been fighting against possible extradition to the United States from 2014.

This judgment came after a considerable length of time as the court battle has been continually delayed in this case.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business.

The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Libertas – The Silk Road Administrator

Gary-Davis
Judge orders Irishman Gary Davis to be extradited to United States.

The 28-year-old Gary Davis, an Irishman, was hunted down by law enforcement officials along with other administrative staff after the Silk Road website was shut down in 2013.

As far as his role as an administrator was concerned, he handled queries and reorganization of various items into different categories that clients could buy off the website.

Three Silk Road administrators were indicted out of which two were outside the country. SSBD, an administrator whose real name was Peter Nash, was in Australia and was later extradited to the US. Andrew Jones whose online name was Inigo was arrested in Virginia, United States.

It is alleged that he was the longest serving administrator.

The administrators were indicted on charges of money laundering, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and computer hacking.

Whereas Nash was sentenced to time served, Jones’ case is still pending in court.

Gary Davis was released on bail soon after his arrest.

It has also been alleged that the Irish government has not been investigating the Silk Road charges against Gary Davis in the United States.

He, therefore, attended all the extradition hearings as a free man since February 2014, soon after the website was pulled down.

However, after a period of two years, Judge Peter McDermott ruled that Gary Davis has to surrender himself to the US authorities.

life_in_prison
Gary faces charges over his alleged involvement with the Silk Road website

Gary faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.

Gary Davis, from his part, had many objections to the extradition request.

The objections were made mainly on grounds of his mental health.

His attorney John O’Kelly has claimed that the Silk Road administrator suffers from both depression and Asperger’s Syndrome.

If he would be detained in the US, the lawyer alleged that he would be kept in a medium security prison/correctional institution that would be detrimental to his mental health.

This would be a breach of his fundamental rights, the lawyer argued.

Davis had also claimed that he would turn suicidal and may end his own life if detained in a medium security prison in the US.

However, the US authorities have agreed that given his current mental health condition, Gary would be accommodated in the prison as a person with these mental challenges.

The US authorities have said that the requisite security, assessment, evaluation and treatment systems are in place in the prison to manage new arrivals.

The judge also expressed concern about the fact that Gary Davis had not undergone any therapy or treatment for his current mental conditions.

In this context, it is also interesting to note that Gary Davis is part of a high-profile battle between Microsoft and the US Justice Department involving emails that were stored on a server in Ireland.

Though the Department of Justice issued a warrant for the emails stored on the server, Microsoft refused to retrieve them because they were outside the FBI’s jurisdiction.

It is reported that Gary Davis’ Twitter account has remained inactive for days. He has been given ten days’ time, and it is expected that he will file an appeal within this period.

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Lawyer of Corrupt Silk Road Agent Withdraw from the Case

According to reports, Davina Pujari, the lawyer of Shaun Bridges, the corrupt Secret Service agent who also played a role in the Silk Road investigations, has requested that she be removed from the case as she finds his recent appeal to be frivolous.

Ms. Pujari is the third lawyer for Bridges from the start of his appeals process in December 2015.

In a recent filing to the Court of Appeals in the 9th Circuit, she noted that after a careful examination of the record and a thorough study of the case law and relevant statutes, she has come to the conclusion that only legally insignificant issues are being presented in the appeal.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

bridges copyThe former special agent from the U.S. Secret Service pleaded guilty in August 2015 to charges of obstruction of justice and money laundering in connection with the incident of stealing bitcoins when carrying out investigations into the operations of the darknet marketplace Silk Road.

Subsequently, Bridges was sentenced to serve a term of 71 months in a prison.

Currently, he is serving this sentence in the federal prison located in Terre Haute in Indiana.

He is scheduled to be released from the prison in January 2021.

However, earlier this year in the month of February, the U.S. government pointed out that Bridges are likely to be involved in more thefts from the online drug marketplace Silk Road.

In her recent filing, Ms. Pujari has also highlighted an argument, which is partly based on Curtis Green’s testimony during the sentencing hearing of Bridges in December 2015.

curtis_greenCurtis Green was an employee of the now defunct Silk Road.

In her brief, she had pointed out that Green’s testimony was a surprise inclusion and noted that the claims were made for the first time.

She added that they did not figure in the plea agreement at all.

Moreover, the accuracy of these claims was questionable.

The district court had noted that the testimony given by Green was a significant factor in the case.

Bridges’ contention in the appeal brief filed by him is that the testimony of Green was not subjected to any kind of scrutiny or cross-examination and that his testimony cannot be considered as clear and convincing evidence.

When Green spoke at the sentencing hearing of Bridges, he was not a witness under oath.

Bridges argues in his appeal brief that his plea deal, which consists of an appeal rights waiver, is not valid as Green was permitted to speak.

He has also argued in the brief that the district court has made a mistake in the calculation of the losses incurred.

Green debriefed Shaun Bridges, Carl Mark Force (a former DEA agent who is currently behind bars on corruption charges related to the same Silk Road investigation), and other Baltimore agents in January 2013.

Following the meeting in Utah, Bridges got hold of the login credentials of Green and initiated the process of locking out the accounts of the Silk Road dealers.

Bridges then looted their accounts and grabbed as much as 20,000 bitcoins.

However, the recent filing by Davina Pujari does not address the new and unsealed charges that were brought up last month by the government against Bridges.

The government strongly suspects that Bridges has stolen another $700,000 after the finalization of his plea deal.

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Silk Road’s Creator Legal Defense Filed A New Reply Brief

ross ulbrichtThe Silkroad is back, making headlines once again, with the defense team of Ross Ulbricht filing a reply brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals as part of the appeal filed in January this year.

The reply brief filed questions whether the trial which led to the Silkroad founder’s conviction was fair enough in any manner whatsoever.

Defense counsel Joshua Dratel’s latest reply in response to the brief filed in June by the prosecution states that his client’s conviction does not hold ground as the Silkroad investigation was carried out with the help of a couple of corrupt officials.

In addition, the reply brief refers to a number of abuses by the court that can be considered as discretionary authority.

According to Dratel, this resulted in the gross violation of the Silkroad founder’s rights.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business.

The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Ross-William-UlbrichtThe creator of Silkroad, Ross Ulbricht, who operated the website under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, was apprehended and convicted of operating an online marketplace for drugs, weapons, and several other illegal goods.

Currently, he is in prison, serving a life sentence without parole for operating the Silkroad marketplace.

In addition to requesting the court to vacate all of the convictions against the founder of Silkroad, the reply brief calls for a re-sentencing or conducting a retrial before another district judge.

In the introductory note of the new reply brief submitted on behalf of the defendant and Silkroad founder Ross Ulbricht, it is mentioned that a point-by-point rebuttal of the government’s brief is not required as they either cover undisputed territory (those that deal with basic legal principles), or present sufficiently anticipated arguments that have already been addressed in the initial brief filed by the defense team.

The new reply filing, therefore, focuses on bringing out the weaknesses in the responses of the government by citing specific examples and highlighting critical issues that have not been addressed at all.

Soon after Ulbricht was convicted, Carl Force and Shaun Bridges, the law enforcement officers associated with the investigation of Silkroad, pleaded guilty of committing certain crimes when carrying out their part of the investigation.

Carl Force of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Shaun Bridges from the U.S. Secret Service pleaded guilty to charges of theft, extortion, and misappropriation of bitcoins belonging to Ulbricht and Silkroad leveled against them.

In the new reply brief filed by the defense counsel Dratel, the argument put forward by him is that the two law enforcement officers had played a significant role in investigating the case which resulted in the arrest, conviction, and sentencing of the Silkroad founder.

He also points to the fact that the government suppressed information about the criminal investigation that was being carried out during the course of Ulbricht’s trial.

In addition, the defense counsel says that the information released, collected or discovered since the filing of the initial brief by Ulbricht vitiates any of the government’s arguments about separating the participation of Force and Bridges in the Silkroad investigation.

Further, Dratel says that Katherine Forrest, the judge who presided over the Silkroad and Ulbricht’s trial, illegitimately prevented him from cross-examining some of the witnesses concerning certain technical aspects and disallowed him from presenting two of the defense witnesses.

Apart from the points raised as regards to the shortcomings on the part of Judge Forrest and the government, defense counsel Dratel notes in the brief that the government violated the Silkroad founder’s Fourth Amendment right.

According to him, the government issued unlawful warrants for searching and seizing belongings and data of Ross Ulbricht without mentioning any kind of evidence against him at that point in time.

According to Dratel, as far as the warrants were concerned, there was a lack of Particularity In Application as well as Execution and the Pen Register and the Trap and Trace Orders were not lawful because they cannot be executed without a warrant.

Also, they failed to stick to statutory limitations.

The nature of the sentence given to Ross Ulbricht by Judge Katherine Forrest, among other things, has also been contested by the defense counsel.

He has expressed his opinion that the justification of life sentence without parole that was awarded to Ulbricht refers to different drug overdose deaths that are not in any way related to the Silkroad case at all.

In addition, he points out that the judgment that was handed down to Ross takes into account certain factors for which he was never even charged with.

After the defense team for Silkroad founder Ross Ulbricht launched its appeal for initiating a new trial in January, the last hope for the Silkroad creator to escape a life sentence, the prosecution responded by rebutting each and every argument raised by the defense counsel.

The brief filed by the prosecution was just a rehash of the Silkroad founder’s trial early last year.

The brief also questioned Judge Katherine Forrest’s decisions in favor of the prosecution, which included suppression of defense evidence, admission of prosecution evidence and denial of defense witnesses.

This prompted Ulbricht’s attorneys to call for a mistrial at least five times.

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US Marshals To Auction Over 2,700 Silk Road Bitcoins

The United States Marshals Service recently made its plans to auction more than 2,700 BTC that’s worth over $1.6 million, taken from several cases, including those stemmed from the investigations on the Silk Road and its founder Ross Ulbricht.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business.

The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

US-Marshalls-50000-Bitcoin-Auction-complete-Ulbricht2-825x510USMS tells how the soon-to-be-auctioned bitcoins are linked to some civil, administrative, and criminal matters pursued by the US government in previous years.

The highest profile among them is the case involving the Silk Road dark web marketplace.

Bitcoin Sources

As the first ever darknet market, the Silk Road soon became a notorious online platform where users were able to buy and sell illicit drugs and various other goods and services.

In line with maintaining anonymity is the use of bitcoin for all transactions, which were ultimately confiscated from the site’s creator, Ross Ulbricht.

Ross Ulbricht was sentenced May last year to life in prison, following the conviction of running an online marketplace which facilitated over $200 million anonymous drug sales transpiring online within the dark web.

The sentence is currently being appealed.

The Silk Road creator’s case is just one out of 9 cases from which a total of 2,719 BTC was forfeited, and now subject to the latest auction according to the US Marshals Service.

In fact, only around 2.8 bitcoins in the upcoming auction actually stems from Ulbricht’s case.

USMS reveals that the bitcoins accounting for 1,294 stem from a civil case associated to Matthew Gillum, a drug dealer from Silk Road who’s been sentenced to 9 years in prison in 2015.

The federal law enforcement agency tells of another 65 BTC coming from the case of former U.S. DEA agent Carl Force IV.

He was sentenced to 78 months back in October 2015 for stealing bitcoins while investigating the Silk Road.

Another 664 out of the 2,719 bitcoins came from Sean Roberson’s case, who allegedly created an online shop catering to counterfeit debit and credit cards.

This Florida man was sentenced to prison for 78 months in November 2015.

Auction Details

bitcoin-auction-participantsThe bitcoin auction will be held this August 22.

Those who wish to participate must register by August 18 and are required to deposit $100,000.

Potential participants outside of the U.S. are welcome as long as they do not belong in the “Specially Designated Nationals” list by the Treasury Department.

USMS said that winners would be notified right on the same day.

The auction is deemed a blind process, meaning the winning bid is not visible to those who make an offer.

August 22 marks the latest of several auctions held by the agency in the past two years, counting four from June 2014 – November 2015 with the Silk Road auction as the last one held during late 2015.

Going back to June, 24,500-bitcoin cache was auctioned off by Ernst & Young in Australia, confiscated from a former user of Silk Road originating from the country.

To date, bitcoin’s legal status may be in a grey area in most parts of the globe. Federal government auctions have increased its legitimacy in the US.

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A-Clinic Foundation in Finland Follows the Footsteps of Silk Road’s Dr. X

Combating drug harm with education has long formed part of darknet history.

It strives to grow along with the rise of online black markets like the Silk Road, the first ever and largest drug platform from which others have mostly sprung out of even after its shutdown.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business.

The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Dr. X from Silk RoadBuyers and sellers of illicit substances remained anonymous through utilizing Tor-hidden marketplaces such as the original Silk Road.

The drug trade in Finland has significantly moved a large part online, just like how the drug situation has evolved in various parts of the globe.

One Finnish charity aims to extend its operations into the dark web, in the light of helping people by providing addiction support and prevention.

With the help of IT specialists, the A-Clinic Foundation has now found its way into the Tor hidden network.

Tackling Addiction with Harm Reduction

Finnish media reports of the non-profit’s plan to launch a project dubbed “Muunto” which means “transformation.”

The A-Clinic registered charity founded back in 1955, offering treatment and rehab services for substance abuse prevention and expert services for other psychosocial problems, publicly announced plans to carry out this program for two years.

AddictionWordsThe foundation is has been working on finding up-to-date methods of making their services available to drug users.

Their harm reduction initiative offers anonymous contact and confidential e-services to Tor users to receive help from their team of experts on addiction.

The non-governmental organization currently has over 800 employees who abide by the guiding principles of respect for human dignity, tolerance, responsibility, and confidentiality.

A-Clinic tells how their presence is in no way paternalistic nor keeping watch.

Program coordinator Miina Kajos add that they try and approach people as equals as much as possible, and the outcome is desirable so far with very positive interactions from Tor users.

Their primary aim is to gain understanding directly from those who buy online, and from the drug dealers who sell there.

Successful contact would greatly help them identify patterns of drug abuse and effectively come up with ways of addressing it.

They are also exploring the viability of Finland’s first ever anonymous psychoactive substance laboratory testing service.

The harm reduction service follows the footsteps of the popular Dr. X. It’s been unraveled that Ross Ulbricht paid this doctor $500 per week to provide medical advice to users, even if this meant telling a person to ultimately quit using drugs.

Who’s Doctor X?

Dr. X came to be known beyond his popularity on the Silk Road for the services he offered.

Unlike almost everybody else, DoctorX revealed his real identity on a Silk Road forum right from the start since early 2013 and started giving free professional advice to drug users since then.

Doctor X, as he called himself, is Spanish Physician Dr. Fernando Caudevilla.

He explicitly expressed his wishes to contribute to the Silk Road forum and even referenced his CV in a link to his personal website.

A user wrote on the Silk Road 2.0 forum how amazing Dr. X is and that he’s a gift with invaluable knowledge he shares and how he never comes with any judgment.

Counting five months of purely volunteer work, Caudevilla eventually let Dread Pirate Roberts know that time commitment in keeping up with both the Silk Road forum and users has become too great to handle.

This was when the Silk Road creator offered him the generous weekly paycheck, an offer which Caudevilla accepted and took in bitcoin. They had bigger plans too such as a drug-testing project to ensure only safe and non-toxic substances were sold on Silk Road.

What presiding U.S. District Court Judge handling the Silk Road case, Katherine Forrest, has called Dr. X – someone who’s “particularly despicable” and “irresponsible,” is up to people to contemplate upon.

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Lyn Ulbricht Speaks about Other People Involved In Silk Road

Silkroad creator’s mother, Lyn Ulbricht expresses her thoughts on another corruption uncovered in the Silkroad saga for the world to know.

She talks about the controversial fact that there are others who were picked up on their involvement in Silkroad drug charges, though none ended up close to Ross’ sentence which makes the grotesque disparity quite evident.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Lyn Ulbricht Two crooked cops by the name Carl Force, former DEA agent, and former Secret Service agent Shawn Bridges have been accused of stealing Silkroad bitcoins.

Most recently, Bridges is suspected of stealing Silkroad bitcoins once again, and in two more cases.

He was helping himself to $700,000 USD more and another $20,000 in BTC to top the first $800,000 he had already been caught red-handed on during the Silkroad investigation.

What was Silkroad prosecuting attorney Preet Bharara’s response? Despite the explicitly tampered evidence in the hands of corrupt fed agents, Ross Ulbricht remains guilty.

The Barbaric Sentence

Lyn tells how U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest issued a barbaric sentence just because Ross was deemed a political threat by the judge herself.

Isn’t this a bit harsh on a man whose only weapon was a keyboard or computer, considering the grave crimes of murderers and child molesters?

Dread Pirate Roberts and the Silkroad darknet market he created was a triumph of libertarian ideals and technology that the government cannot control.

It’s the blatant truth behind the Silkroad that once existed in the dark web.

However, the judge found Ross Ulbricht’s writings and beliefs to be deeply troubling and highly dangerous.

Lyn and the defense strongly believe that her son was treated and jailed unfairly mainly because he was the creator of the first online black market that ultimately became the largest illicit drug platform.

Three of the notable arrests include leading Silk Road vendor Jan Slomp, biggest cocaine and heroin vendor Steven Sadler, and Silkroad administrator Peter Nash.

They received a 10-year, 5-year, and 17-month sentence respectively.

Moreover, the corrupt agents got 6 and 7 years while Silkroad 2.0’s key player Brian Farrell was given an 8-year prison term.

Now, what about Ulbricht? Charged with money laundering, conspiracy to narcotic trafficking, computer hacking, and murder which was eventually dropped though he was still handed down a life sentence, and without the possibility of parole.

Ulbricht’s supporters have just gotten their speculations confirmed that Ross served as a scapegoat for the failed drug policy of the American government.

His mother states that this convinced her that her son was a political prisoner.

The government wanted to make an example out of him to warn others and deter them from creating criminal sites similar to the Silkroad.

However, the results are otherwise with even more dark web sites that have emerged today which are far bigger than the original Silkroad marketplace.

Corruption in the Silkroad Case

lyn ulbrichtFirst off, Lyn points out that the Silkroad trial was mishandled right from the start.

She questions the Senator of New York’s closure of Silkroad followed by strangely ordering the trial in the state, rather than in California where he was arrested.

Charles Schumer had connections with the legal prosecutor as his own special counsel and the Silkroad judge having been suggested by the senator himself.

Lyn alleges that research done by a professional forensic pathologist concluded that no scientific evidence proves Silkroad drugs caused the alleged deaths.

Lyn expresses how terrible she feels for parents of those who died, but voices out that the courtroom must rely more on facts, evidence, and cross-examine all parties instead of completely focusing on Silkroad founder.

Ross wasn’t allowed to defend himself, and Silkroad witnesses were muzzled as the judge totally refused to hear their side of the Silkroad story.

Nowhere in the law does it state that a harsher punishment is imperative for the first offender in any case.

Also, Shaun Bridges was clearly empowered over the Silkroad site, and evidence manipulation has been proven twice now.

The prosecution has utterly ignored this along with the unabashed mishandling of the Silkroad case.

These actions coming from the government has led many to believe that the US justice system has failed.

Also considering that it relies on digital evidence, pertaining to that which can easily be forged, is one thing that’s actually troubling when looking at future convictions.

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Silk Road Online

It was a different time for Darknet marketplaces back in 2013. The whole idea of a centralized marketplace for something like drugs was not as accepted as it is today, at least not until Silk Road stepped up to the plate.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Silk Road and Dread Pirate Roberts

DPRSilk Road was the first “real” drug marketplace on Darknet and one of the pioneers of the idea that drugs could be sold and bought over the internet anonymously. It was established by a man called Ross Ulbricht, known to many as “Dread Pirate Roberts” and his associates. Aside from the fact that this was the first Darknet Marketplace of this size, what separated it from other contenders at that time was Dread Pirate Roberts’ philosophy of standing up against the system and proving that drug consumption and trafficking can be done peacefully and safely. One of the main reasons for Silk Road’s existence at that time was to allow people who wanted to purchase illegal drugs, to do so without fearing for their safety.

The Bust

This went on until October 2nd, 2013 when an FBI Seizure Notice replaced the usual Silkroad login screen. Shortly after that, different speculations started circling the Darknet about what was the full story behind this. Most prominent theories were that either Dread Pirate Roberts was arrested, or he ran off with everyone’s money. There were some who still clung to hope that this was just a prank pulled by the site’s admins, but this was soon dispelled by the confirmation of the news that Ross Ulbricht has been arrested on the charges pertaining to running Silk Road.

What followed after could be very well described as a fall of a nation. Mass panic among the Darknet community ensued and many people were justifiably worried about their personal data and whether it was safe. Luckily, most of the buyers from Silkroad were not persecuted but were left with a difficult situation nonetheless. What was to be done now? Without Silk Road where will they purchase the goods that were so readily available to them just a few days ago?

Aftermath

People, who will in time be called “Silk Road refugees,” now had to find a new marketplace that will replace the hole that the site left. This was a period of many scams, one of the most well-known ones being the Sheep Marketplace scam. On the flip side, after the owner of Sheep Marketplace disappeared with estimated 40 million dollars in Bitcoin, a post appeared on the front page of Sheep Marketplace with several .onion links directing to other “trustworthy” marketplaces. The result of this was that not only Sheep Marketplace was shut down due to exit scam, but TorMarket and Black Market Reloaded also had to turn into invite-only marketplaces because their servers could not handle the sudden influx of people from Silk Road and Sheep Marketplace.

Silk Road 2.0

After the fall of Silkroad, some of the admins and prominent vendors refused to “give up” and decided to revive the site as it once was. The alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” was picked up by one of the well-known vendors from the site StExo. He then met with several mods and admins from the site to discuss its revival and even posted a notice on Silkroad forums telling Dread Pirate Roberts to contact him as soon as possible. Many speculated that this was an attempt to make the authorities believe they have a wrong person, or at least that “Dread Pirate Roberts” was not a single person, to begin with.

The Crew

Ross UlbrichtAfter establishing himself as a successor to Dread Pirate Roberts, StExo rallied a group of now-former Silkroad admins and decided that their first course of action was to create a new place of gathering for Silkroad refugees. The people assisting StExo were accurately described as “a colorful bunch,” but they all shared the idea that Silk Road was not dead for good.

Among the group was Scout, a former moderator of Silkroad forum, who was well known and well liked by the community, but had a history of “betraying his captain.” He has been discovered by Dread Pirate Roberts to be conspiring with an undercover federal agent to create a vendor account in an attempt to infiltrate Silk Road. He was laid off because of this and later reinstated just to be fired again, followed by another reinstatement under a different moniker.

Another part of the crew was a person known under the name Same Same But Different (SSBD), who was allegedly Dread Pirate Roberts’ most loyal confidant.

The last person to assist in the creation of Silk Road 2.0 was the former forum administrator Libertas. He was known as “Gestapo,” but nonetheless his seal of approval was what finally got people to rally to Silkroad 2.0’s forum.

Sometime after the creation of Silk Road 2.0 forum, StExo posted under his moniker that while he approves of the site’s forum, will never trust a marketplace opened under the name of someone else’s idea. This was, of course, arouse created to distance StExo from the entire operation.

In November 2013 the new Silk Road 2.0 marketplace opened for business, which was a direct taunt to the authorities. By now any possibility of Silk Road’s staff being on authorities’ radar has been dismissed, and the admins of Silkroad continued using their old monikers.

The problem was that Silkroad 2.0 was a huge taunt to the competence of agencies fighting the War on Drugs and those same agencies held Ross Ulbricht and all data stored on his personal laptop. Unfortunately, that data included personal information on SSBD, Libertas, and Inigo, who were arrested and charged for involvement with Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0. After this, StExo disappeared, but the allure of potential profit that Silkroad offered was too great. He returned under a different name, Defcon, and fabricated a story that would explain the current state of events.

Shortly after, Silkroad 2.0 was allegedly hacked and around 4 thousand Bitcoins were stolen. A post was placed on the site’s forum that contained personal information of said hacker, which later turned out to be fabricated. The accepted explanation is that StExo realized that it is no longer safe running the site and thus decided to run away with all the Bitcoin that was in escrow at the time.

Silk Road 3.0

Following the fall of Silk Road 2.0, a large majority of Darknet has started to shun the name and associate it with scamming. The name that once signified the battle against the War on Drugs is now nothing more than a shade of its former self. Given this, it is unusual, to say the least, that a small but relatively prominent marketplace called Diabolus Marketplace, decided last year to change their name into Silk Road 3.0 following the closure of its second iteration. The site has not only changed its name but has also actively rebranded itself to resemble Silk Road. The owner of the site has also admitted in an interview that they are working with a senior member from older Silk Roads to create the Silk Road 3.0. This has caused the majority of Darknet community to question the trustworthiness of the site and many people went as far as to claim that “you have to be retarded to put money into any site that has Silk Road in its name” and that “Silk Road era is done.” Even sites like DeepDotWeb are warning their users that any further Silkroad iterations are not to be trusted and will probably end up scamming their users. While the Silkroad 3.0 is still up and running, and quite well if one looks at the amount of listings posted on it, there is no telling how it will end and who the people are running it behind the scenes.

Silk Road Reloaded

As with Silk Road 3.0, Silk Road Reloaded was another marketplace that tried to cash in on the name. It got an even worse treatment than Silkroad 3.0, mainly because its admin acted very weirdly, even rudely in some cases, and was considered to be a troll by a majority of Darknet community. An interesting thing about the site is that it was based on i2p rather than Tor, which earned it a lot of side glances from Darknet community. It also had its inbuilt crypto-currency converter, meaning it was accepting payments in a currency other than Bitcoin, which was converted automatically by the site. It has been ten months since any news was heard from the site, which probably means that the marketplace has been shut down for one reason or another.

Future of Silk Road

While Silk Road 3.0 still stands and operates normally, many people who have been visiting Darknet marketplaces for a longer period are appealing to the newer users to steer clear of Silkroad brand. The name itself has been too heavily connected to scamming and foul play, making the majority of users decides on other sites as their source of business. And with the recent increase in personal vendor marketplaces which have proven to be much safer and trustworthy, centralized markets like Silkroad 3.0 are getting less and fewer visitors every day. It is possible that it will be the last real iteration of Silk Road since the name has started to bring more bad publicity than anything else.

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Former Silk Road Employee Granted A Blue Card

A man named Peter Philip Nash was put in jail because of his involvement with the online drug marketplace called the Silk Road. He has reportedly won an appeal that he had filed for obtaining a blue card in Brisbane. He was extradited to the US from Brisbane in 2013 after he was charged¬ with conspiracy to money laundering and committing narcotics trafficking. The Silk Road website with which he was associated generated over $200 million in sales through the sale of illicit goods.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Peter NashPeter Nash pleaded guilty but said that he had bought illicit as well as controlled substances through the Silk Road website for his personal use. He was later on contacted by the operators of the Silk Road website to work as the moderator of an associated chat forum. He confirmed that he worked for ten months as the moderator of this chat forum.

Nash also said that he received his salary in bitcoins and used approximately $25,000 he earned for buying drugs on the Silk Road for his personal use. He was sentenced to 17 months in jail on 26th May 2015 and was subsequently released from custody.

Peter Nash had shifted base to Brisbane and was working in an adult forensic disability services center before he was arrested in 2011. He wanted to return to Brisbane and work in the field of providing services to people with challenging behavior and intellectual disabilities. He did succeed in securing a job in his chosen field but was informed about the cancellation of his blue card. Though he applied once again, the Public Safety Business Agency (PSBA) informed him that he was not eligible for the blue card.

Peter Nash then made an appeal to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Queensland. On reviewing the history of Nash, the Tribunal found out that he had been using drugs for recreational purposes in his 20s and 30s, but started self-medication since 2011 to cope with stress at his workplace.

Peter Nash 2Nash had taken steps to get rid of his drug addiction weeks ahead of his arrest and used his time in prison to complete drug abuse education, treatment, and rehabilitation. He even completed a stress management course.

A report on Peter Nash, given by an independent psychologist noted that the offending behavior of Nash could be attributed to social isolation (there was no support network when he came to Brisbane for the very first time) and workplace stress. The psychologist also noted that he was never a direct threat and posed a low risk as far as children are concerned. Peter Nash’s character witness submissions pointed out that he was a role model during his tenure with forensic disability services.

Though the tribunal determined that the sobriety of Peter Nash was in its infancy (2.5 years), the chances of a relapse were considered to be low because of the ongoing support arrangements and plans. Member Howard said that he was fully satisfied with Nash’s case because of the life-changing experience that he had gone through. He concluded that the right action in Nash’s case would be to set aside the ruling of PSBA and substitute it with a favorable decision and issue a blue card to him.

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Ex-Silk Road Secret Service Agent Alleged Of Additional Thefts

Shaun Bridges, one of two ex-US feds accused of going rogue during the Silkroad investigation, the other being former DEA agent Carl Force. Both were members of Baltimore Silkroad Task Force who abused their roles and former Silkroad Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges dauntlessly pursued even more alleged corrupt acts linked to the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3.0 Guide <<

Silkroad Theft

Silkroad TheftFormer Secret Service agent Bridges pleaded guilty in August last year to money laundering and obstruction of justice, in connection with Bitcoin theft during the investigation of the most sought after online black market at the time, the Silkroad.

Upon admitting that he stole approximately 20,000 Silkroad Bitcoins amounting to about $350,000 back then, he was sentenced in the month of December to nearly 6 years in prison. It was between March and May 2013 that he liquidated the digital currency into $820,000 and transferred funds to his personal investment accounts.

Bridges confessed that he stole money from Silkroad underground drug bazaar accounts, and framed someone else for it. The witty frame-up act had led to Silkroad creator and operator, Ross William Ulbricht, to contract a murder for the thief. Ulbricht, aka “Dread Pirate Roberts,” ended up guilty of charges and is currently serving life in prison sentence.

Two-fold Stolen Bitcoin Cases

4Bitcoins have been allegedly stolen by Shaun Bridges in two other different instances. How he managed to do so after having been initially arrested and the fact that he already pled guilty to online dark market Silkroad related charges is an interesting controversy.

Apart from stealing the Silkroad money seized by the government, Bridges is alleged man behind the theft of an estimated $700,000 worth of Bitcoins sourced from a Secret Service account. This occurrence is noted three months after his access was supposed to be blocked.

Unsealed court filings indicated that the Justice Department unraveled last April the possibility of Bridges holding a private cryptographic key. If he had, it would have granted him easy access to a Bitcoin wallet wherein the $700,000 worth of Bitcoins seized by the Silkroad task force was stored.

The department states that they have urged to block his access, but unfortunately was not done by the U.S. Secret Service. Thus, the funds were stolen and something that would have been overlooked if not with the court order to pay a portion of Bitcoin seized back to its claimants.

According to federal prosecutors, the government is running an ongoing investigation of determining if Bridges executed theft of approximately $700,000 on July 28th, only to be followed by more stealing of $20,000 Bitcoins on September 10th of 2015.

It can be noted how the document does not definitively state that the suspected former Silkroad Secret Service agent indeed took the money; however, prosecutors tell of the only individual conclusively known to have access, is no other than Shaun Bridges.

In February, right on the day before he was up to start serving his prison sentence, Bridges’ second arrest was accomplished at his Laurel, Maryland home. Officers found luggage containing a notarized copy of his passport, records for three offshore account, bulletproof vests that were issued by the Secret Service and probably stolen, which altogether appearing to be items for use in an attempt flee the country.

Currently, Bridges is in detention at the Terre Haute, Indiana prison. The Secret Service and his lawyer Steven Levin chose not to comment.

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