Alleged Key Advisor To Silk Road, Variety Jones, In Thai Prison

thai-prisonAnd so the ongoing Silk Road saga continues…

Three years after the demise of the original darknet market, we’re still caught up in the turmoil surrounding the eponymous online black market.

Roger Thomas Clark, allegedly one-time right-hand man to the owner of Silk Road, has been in prison in Thailand a long nine months. Considering the conditions in jails across numerous countries in South East Asia, this is no mean feat.

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

But who is Roger Thomas Clark, and why is he seemingly rotting away in a Thai jail?

The answer lies in a convoluted mess of tiny bits of evidence – evidence obtained across the course of nailing the owner of Silk Road – one Ross Ulbricht aka “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

Ulbricht is currently serving life in prison after being convicted of charges including money laundering, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and computer hacking.

Ulbricht was the brains behind the world’s first darknet market. Silk Road was launched in early 2011. Running over the Tor network, the online marketplace offered people a chance to buy and sell online in a completely anonymous fashion.

While built around the idea of a completely free market, in reality, the marketplace was a veritable haven for the trade of illegal goods and services including drugs.

With noble aspirations, Ulbricht descended into something far greater than himself and found himself ordering hits to protect his data assets and identity.

Ulbricht was caught mainly due to infiltration by an FBI agent, who was later found to have been dirty after siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin into his own accounts.

The plot really reads more like something out of a Hollywood movie.

Variety Jones

variety-jonesBut how, exactly, does Roger fit into the picture?

Roger Thomas Clark is allegedly “Variety Jones,” a key individual involved in the day to day operations of the Silk Road marketplace.

Variety Jones originally joined Silk Road in 2011, as a marijuana seed vendor.

Communications between Dread Pirate Roberts and Variety Jones, obtained from logs on machines of Ulbricht himself reveal a clever, worldly confidant, advisor, and manager in Variety Jones.

Variety Jones was a skilled technologist, and over the course of time became heavily involved with running Silk Road and advising Dread Pirate Roberts on murky areas related to business.

This even involved suggesting to DPR taking out a hit on people who were a danger to the working of the business. Variety Jones was DPR’s right-hand man – the go-to sounding board when things became unclear in business.

The man himself

Roger Thomas Clark currently sits in a prison in the country’s capital, Bangkok, while the US makes attempts to extradite him. Roger, at 55, doesn’t appear to the naked eye to be a devious international criminal.

And in terms of evidence against him, it is unclear just how much the US authorities have. When Roger was arrested and his assets seized, unlike Ulbricht, all his files were encrypted.

While there’s a trail of evidence that seems to lead towards him, just what they’ve got remains a mystery for now. Clark remains committed to fighting extradition attempts. After the life sentencing of Ulbricht, it’s easy to see why.

Extradition remains almost certainly a life sentence for Clark. The charges the US government is accusing him of include narcotics conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, where the outcome if convicted is likely life in prison.

A recent interview

advisor-in-prisonRecently, Ars Technica has been taking the time to interview Clark, both in the visitors’ section of the Bangkok Remand Prison, and listening in to the man while on his way to the courthouse in Bangkok to continue fighting extradition attempts.

And while Clark doesn’t seem to be proclaiming his innocence too much, he does raise another very valid point about the investigation.

“Guilt is a technical term,” he says, “They don’t have s*** on me.” This raises the point in the US that evidence needs to be shown that the accused is guilty without a reasonable doubt.

“Forensics could spend 30 years trying to decrypt those hard drives and still not get anywhere,” Clark says matter-of-factly.

Just what is on those hard drives will perhaps not be known for many, many years, which may indeed have put the US investigation into the matter on a bit of a deep freeze.

What’s next?

Clark alludes to friends in high places in South East Asian governments, deals with officials, and military information. It’s almost like a mystery novel.

The man is clever, for sure, and remains optimistic about his chances in Thailand.

The jail hasn’t beat Clark like it does for so many other foreigners who wind up in the prison system there.

Perhaps it’s because of the groundswell of support from those in the online community, or perhaps it’s because of his inherent nature.

Perhaps it’s just because of the genuine love of the country that Clark has acquired over his years of living in the country – it’s hard not to like, with its sun-drenched personality.

For the moment, Clark remains in a sort of international limbo. While conditions in Thai jail are surely not ideal, it beats the alternative for Clark.

We will have to see just what happens in this case and whether extradition attempts will be successful.

Whether the amount of evidence against Clark is enough to get him onto US shores, or whether the Thai government deems him too important to the country to free is yet to be seen.

All that is known is that Roger Thomas Clark fights on.

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Buying Drugs Online

A Short History

As virtually everybody is probably aware, the drugs trade has not always been connected to the internet and even today only a small portion of the global market is located online.

As a matter of fact, what is today considered as illegal drugs were probably used as a medicine or a diet supplement some 50 years ago.

It was not until recently that many substances were deemed dangerous to human health and psyche to the point where their possession was punishable by law.

The other side of the story that is more probably is that governments declared the drugs illegal for their own gain and to serve the agenda of multinational drug corporations.

As with every product where there is demand, there will always be suppliers. The trading of drugs has become a lawless business and as such it attracted a lot of danger with it.

Faced with such a situation a community of like-minded people who believed in responsible and controlled use of drugs appeared.

The number one problem they had on their hands in order to talk about and buy drugs online was organizing a safe environment for communication since what they discussed about could land them a fair amount of prison time.

buying-drugs-enter-tor
Tor is your access door to the hidden web

Enter Tor and hidden services on the Deep Web. It did not take a long time for such a community to accept the anonymous nature of Tor as the greatest asset in the battle to preserve their identity.

At first, various forums began to sprout, and it was soon evident that not only people with good intentions were visiting them.

Since there was not a centralized system to buy drugs online and protect the customers from scamming suppliers, many people refrained from using Darknet Markets as their go-to source of drugs.

What many consider a revolution regarding their dream to buy drugs online began in 2011 with the founding of Silk Road. Silk Road was not the first attempt for a centralized marketplace for illegal products (including drugs) and services, but it soon proved to be the most stable one.

It lasted for more than two years until it attracted too much attention of international anti-drug law forces which shut it down in late 2013.

The following years saw a lot of instability on Darknet, as many marketplaces raced to fill in a spot left behind by Silk Road and after some time there are a few strong contenders to the title.

As of today, there are numerous marketplaces of different sizes and philosophies where one can buy drugs online, and it is safe to say that the online drugs trade is only going to grow as the time and technology progress.

The Current State of Darknet Marketplaces

darknet
Today’s hottest online marketplaces on the dark web as of right now.

As of recently, there seems to be a sort of a temporary stability on Darknet as there are no prominent new marketplaces opening and the giants currently at the top of Darknet drugs trade are not facing issues.

There are quite a few marketplaces currently open on Darknet where one can buy drugs online, but five of them take up the biggest share in online drug trafficking.

With the shutdown of Agora marketplace, AlphaBay has managed to become and stay the largest marketplace specializing in selling drugs.

This marketplace is known for their many features which help users increase their privacy, protect them from scammers (although scamming is still a burning issue) and increase the comfort of use.

It is important to note that AlphaBay seems to be under constant criticism since its secondary focus is carding and credit card information trade.

 

The second largest place one can buy drugs online is the Darknet marketplace Silk Road 3.0. This marketplace has seen a lot of criticism from the general public as trying to cash out on the name, but it has managed to prove over time that it was a legitimately safe and reliable place to buy drugs online.

It has steadily increased in size since its opening and it has reached the point where it has over 30 thousand listings offered by some of the most reputable vendors on Darknet.

Following behind Silk Road 3.0, when it comes to size and number of products to choose from, is the Dream Market.silk-road-3

Dream Market is one of the oldest marketplaces where one can buy drugs online, and it has been around longer than most currently popular hidden services.

This should be taken as a strong sign of quality and integrity.

While not as big as Silk Road 3.0 or AlphaBay, many people prefer it thanks to its clean design and ease of use.

Valhalla and Outlaw markets can also be considered senior residents of Darknet, but their volume is quite a bit lower than that of AlphaBay, Silk Road 3 and Dream Market.

This should not be considered as a detriment, as many big vendors from before mentioned marketplaces have profiles set up on different marketplaces.

Valhalla was until recently a Finnish-only marketplace, and they have since expanded into an international business.

To commemorate this, they have changed their name from Silkkitie to Valhalla in order to appeal to the broader audience.

Given its Finnish roots, it should not come as a surprise that most of its community is based in Finland, but the international vendors are increasingly showing interest in this marketplace and are starting to open up profiles.

Outlaw, on the other hand, has been an international marketplace for the entirety of its existence, and the community present there stands as the proof of that.

Outlaw is widely considered one of the most secure places to buy drugs online, despite its design not being too pleasing to the eye.

Luckily, Outlaw admins are announcing a rework of the site design but are stating that user security is their primary concern while design takes a distant second place.

The last on the list of top Darknet drugs sources and the newest addition to the market is the Hansa marketplace.

Despite it being a relatively new marketplace, it received an overwhelmingly positive feedback from the Darknet community.

While there are a significantly lower number of vendors compared to other top marketplaces, it still manages to attract the attention of many customers mainly due to their security policy.

There are a few well-known and established vendors on Hansa which only serves to increase the amount of people returning to buy drugs online. And despite an increasing traffic, the reviews it receives are hardly ever negative.

Buying Prescription Drugs Online

buying-drugs-online
Buying prescribed drugs online is now very available

Aside from being used by people to buy illicit drugs online, the Darknet marketplaces have allowed their users to have an easy access to prescription drugs.

It has recently become evident that large pharmaceutical companies are becoming more and more focused on profit without much care for any form of ethic conduct.

It has come to the point where they are using their influence to fund lawmakers and legislators in order to position themselves better in the marketplace. This has in turn made the prices of prescription drugs reach astounding amounts, especially in the US.

This coupled with the fact that many drugs are becoming harder to acquire due to them being classified as “easy to abuse” and the average person looking to buy some painkillers for their toothache is faced with extortionate prices if they are looking to stay within the bounds of the law.

It is for this reason that many vendors and even whole marketplaces who were used to selling drugs online, have switched their business model to prescription drugs trade.

While the prices are still not on the lower side of things, prescription drugs online are much more affordable and easier to acquire then buying them in a typical pharmacy in the US, since they do not require frequent visits to the doctor.

Safety Measures When Ordering on Darknet Marketplaces

The first, most obvious and unavoidable thing one will have to use to get access to Darknet marketplaces is a Tor browser. There is no other way to access hidden services or buy drugs online without using Tor.

That being said, Tor in itself is not perfect software, even more so since it started to attract the attention of anti-drug law enforcements.

Another thing to note is that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is always aware of your Tor usage which can be used against us in the worst case scenario.

It is for this reason that the use of a good VPN is highly advised, some would say even mandatory.

What “good” means when it comes to VPNs is whether they keep logs of their user’s activities, what payment method is allowed when using their services and which country are they situated in.

The third layer of protection one should consider using if they want to buy drugs online is Tails OS. Tails is a Debian-based Linux distribution created with the sole purpose of protecting its user’s identity.

When using Tails, it is advised that one boots it from the USB, as it opens the possibility of quickly getting rid of any data tied to the online purchase of drugs in extreme scenarios.

All that is needed is a 4GB or larger USB stick on which a Tails .iso is burned.

This covers most of the technical measures one should take a note off, but there are other things that need to be taken care of to ensure one’s safety in order to buy drugs online.

First and foremost, it is mandatory that we do a thorough research on the vendor when we decide to buy drugs online.

If we fail to do so, best case scenario is getting a bad product or getting scammed, while the worst case scenario can even be running into an undercover law enforcement officer.

Even when you do your homework on various vendors, it is still advisable to get a chemical test kit when ordering from an untested vendor.

Even respected vendors can have a bad batch of drugs and testing it beforehand can save us from some awful experiences.

Drug-related Penalties

While many different countries have different views on the use of drugs, in almost any country possession of substances that are deemed as illegal drugs by the law enforcement or an attempt to buy drugs online will get you a prison sentence and a monetary fine.

drug-related-penalties
Strict Penalties for drug offenders

A standard penalty for possession of class A drugs in the UK (MDMA, Cocaine, Heroine, etc.) usually gets the sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

In case the court decides that the defendant had the intention of distributing said drugs, the punishment is a lifetime in prison and a monetary fine of indefinite value.

As far as US federal law goes, the prison sentence is always the penalty for drug possession. The duration of the prison sentence varies depending on the substance in question, the amount of drugs and whether the offense was a first one on the defendant’s record.

For example, possession of any none-cocaine-based drugs in any amount will yield a fine of at least $1000 USD and a prison sentence of up to 1 year.

In case the court determines that there was an intent of distribution of said drugs, the term of imprisonment can reach up to a lifetime in prison depending on the amount found in possession.

Asian countries are the strictest when it comes to drug laws, and almost any amount of any illegal drugs will be penalized by a minimum of 10 years in prison and the death penalty has been used in drug cases.

Drug Rehabilitation and Harm Reduction

The one exceedingly prominent good side when someone looks into how to buy drugs online is the accessibility to the community.

There are numerous forums that help people stay safe during drug use and even offer medical and harm reduction advice.

Couple this with the fact that the purity of drugs on Darknet is generally much higher than purity of drugs found on the streets and it becomes clear how much the Darknet community helps in harm reduction tied to the use of drugs.

There are even tips on how one can help themselves stop using drugs which are often backed up by personal experiences and even medical research.

Conclusion

The use of drugs has come a long way from movie-like scenes of shady deals on the streets or bloody gang conflicts, ever since it has become evident how easy it is to buy drugs online.

While the above mentioned are still very present, the drug trade is starting to make a shift to the virtual realm, mainly because it offers a more secure channel for distribution and an incredibly wider market.

Another reason to buy drugs online is the ease of marketing and accessibility to community offered by various anonymity measures.

These factors cannot even be taken into consideration when thinking about the traditional face-to-face way of selling and this is why people will continue to prefer to buy drugs online.

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Bail Granted To Alleged Silk Road Admin

Gary Davis, the man from Wicklow and an alleged administrator of the Silk Road marketplace, has appealed to an order of the High Court that he be extradited to the United States where he will face a trial. He has been granted bail.

Gary Davis has been fighting extradition since the year 2013, and a High Court judge had ordered him to surrender himself to the US authorities for a trial. On August 19, his appeal to overturn the decision of the judge was granted to him. This gives him more time to prepare for the potential extradition.

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 <<

The Silk Road Administrator Granted Bail

Gary-Davis
Alleged Irish administrator of Silk Road website granted bail.

Davis is one among the three moderators of Silk Road that were arrested on charges of distribution of narcotics, computer hacking, and money laundering.

The other two were Peter Nash and Andrew Jones. Gary objected to the High Court judge’s order saying that he suffered from depression and Asperger’s Syndrome.

His defense lawyer stated that he would not receive proper care if detained in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

The judge rejected his appeal that his constitutional and human rights would be breached. Davis was held in custody at the Cloverhill Prison.

The matter was taken up by the court once again when Mr. Davis filed an appeal against Justice McDermott’s order that he turn himself in and surrender to the US authorities.

The former Silk Road administrator requested that he be granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal.

Davis has been given ten days’ time to file a new appeal to turn down this decision of the judge.

Bail has been granted, and he now has time to prepare for his potential extradition. If extradited to the US and if he is convicted there, he could be awarded a life sentence.

bail granted
Judge orders Irishman Gary Davis to be extradited to United States.

The bail to Davis was consented to on the basis of a few conditions: he would sign every day with the Gardai; he would be let out on bail only on the basis of an independent surety of 15,000 Euros out of which 10,000 Euros were to be given as cash to the court; he should reside in Johnston Court (Kilpedder), demonstrate good behavior and not travel out of the jurisdiction.

Gary Davis was granted bail after his father John Davis stood up as the independent surety.

Davis had already been on bail as the extradition request was being dealt with by the court and was fully complying with all the bail terms that were set.

Gary Davis was accused of acting as the administrator of the online black marketplace Silk Road launched in 2011 under the name of “Libertas.”

The site was shut down in 2013 by the FBI. Ross Ulbricht, the creator of Silk Road, was charged, arrested and subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

With the US authorities’ claims that Gary Davis as the administrator had explicit knowledge of all the items that were on sale on the Silk Road website, the lawyer who defended the other alleged moderator said that Davis cannot avoid a severe “no-mercy” sentence if convicted in the US.

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Winning Bidder Claimed 2,700 Bitcoins at USMS Latest Auction

An anonymous bidder, who won the bid, bought 2,700 bitcoins at the United States Marshal Service (USMS) auction held recently. It is roughly worth 1.6 million dollars.

The government had announced an auction of the 2,719 bitcoins that were seized during many raids and cases like those of the Silk Road, the online black marketplace.

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 <<

bitcoin bidding
USMS, US Marshals. A winning bidder claimed 2,700.

The auction was announced at the beginning of the month, and the USMS confirmed that four bids were received for the same. The auction took place on August 22 between 13.00 and 19.00 UTC.

This auction was the smallest event held by the USMS. There were only five registered bidders for the auction of the 2,700 bitcoins.

Those who wished to take part in the auction were required to register before August 18. They were also required to deposit a fee of $100,000.

The USMS auction that took place in November last witnessed a higher turnout when 44,000 bitcoins were auctioned off.

The bitcoins auctioned off were worth $14.6 million and there were 11 bidders. Like in previous auctions, USMS also announced that the winning bidder could choose to reveal their identity if they wished to do so.

Previous bidders for the 44,000 bitcoin auction include investor Tim Draper, OTC trading firm Cumberland Mining, and the Bitcoin exchange itBit among the 11 bidders.

The USMS auction process is conducted in such a way that the winning bid is not made visible to anybody that makes a bid in the auction.

Earlier in June, Ernst & Young in Australia auctioned off 24,500 bitcoins that were confiscated from a Silk Road user.

The Source of the Bitcoins

bitcoin
An anonymous bidder purchased 2700 bitcoins worth about $2 million in an anonymous auction held by US Marshals Service

Silk Road was an online darknet marketplace that used bitcoins for its transactions.

Users traded and bought products on the site using bitcoins. A number of bitcoins were confiscated from the site creator, Ross Ulbricht.

He was sentenced to life in prison last year in May. Out of the 2,719 bitcoins that were auctioned off, a majority of them came from investigations related to the Silk Road.

About 1,300 of the auctioned bitcoins were related to Mathew Gillum, a Silk Road drug dealer.

This individual was sentenced to nine years in prison in the year 2015.

The bitcoins were seized in a civil case. 2.8 bitcoins only belonged to Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road.

Ross was convicted in May 2015 and sentenced to life in prison for running the website.

65 bitcoins came from a former DEA agent Carl Force IV, who was part of the Silk Road investigations.

He stole many bitcoins during the investigation and was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison. About 665 bitcoins were related to the Sean Roberson case.

This man from Florida allegedly traded stolen credit and debit card details through an online shop that he had set up.

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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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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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