The United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, was recently discovered to have a hand in the seizure of the Silk Road marketplace.
In a special expose published by the immigration department, it was revealed how ICE agents had been an instrument in the takedown of the Silk Road back in October 2013.
Currently, ICE is heavily involved in taking down other criminals on the deep web.
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.
ICE Collaborated with the Cyber Crimes Center
ICE’s extended reach into cyber crime has been facilitated by The Cyber Crimes Center (C3), who, according to their Deputy Assistant Director (DAD), Patrick Lechleitner is not at all scared by the darknet.
The DAD said that the sophistication of Darknet has been largely overestimated and that only special permissions are required to access the site.
Under the Department of Homeland Security, ICE is largely concerned with crimes taking place along the US border such as human and drug trafficking, and illegal immigration.
Despite that, the recently published report resolved the extended reach ICE has through The Cyber Crimes Center.
ICE’s Presence Instrumental in the Demise of the Silk Road
ICE was drawn into the DHS investigation named “Operation Dime Store,” leading to the seizure of the Silk Road.
This was after several small drug seizures were made at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at the mail hub.
According to ICE, the seized packages were highly unusual because they were all sourced from international locations and were addressed to locations all over the United States, and were not commonly ship through the mail.
ICE was given a tasked with finding the source of the drugs and after intercepting and analyzing several packages, they traced that the drugs came from the darknet market and it did not take long.
Following the discovery, ICE dedicated all its efforts, they analyzed the fingerprints on the packaging to look for clues in tracking the drug vendors and where the site was hosted and made an undercover purchase to enter the website.
Investigations Spearheaded by SA DerYeghiayan
ICE agent SA DerYeghiayan spearheaded the investigations and enter the darknet market as an undercover agent and eventually became a top lieutenant the Silk Road website, said Lechleitner.
Throughout the investigations, Yeghiayan had played a vital role; he analyzed seized drugs, interrogated suspects, and collected evidence. He often included participation in arresting suspected vendors and was given an insight, perspective of the darknet market.
Expose explained that DerYeghiayanhan served as the lead witness in the Silk Road case in the US.
Ulbricht would not have been found guilty, without the agent’s work, ICE guaranteed Ulbricht’s double life sentence due to following criminal offenses: money laundering, smuggling of illegal drugs, continuing criminal enterprise, hacking, and fraud documentation.
Yeghiayan said that the most satisfying part of the investigation was blocking the website and putting an end through the dangerous flow of drugs and weapons across the world, but the most important is to shut down the website.
ICE’s victory over the Silk Road was the beginning of their adaptation to the deep web, according to their DAD Patrick Lechleitner.
ICE Perfectly Adapted To Take On Modern Cyber Crime
As the deep web criminal world continues to grow, so does ICE’s reach and their workload.
The ICE HSI is directly involved in the fight against criminal activity in the cyber environment.
As a criminal investigation unit, HSI fights criminal activity on the darknet one step at a time, the same way they do offline.
As Lechleitner put it, this market a new era in law enforcement and simultaneously symbolized the evolution of law enforcement agencies, which was unavoidable for them to be able to adapt to the rapidly changing technological world.
As any other crime, ICE believes that sites such as the Silk Road cause a danger to citizens as long as nothing is done to control it.
Darknet Sites Dangerous to US Citizens
Darknet sites affect the average citizen both directly and indirectly. American faces many risks of the activity taking place on the dark web, Lechleitner explained.
Darknet market relates itself to the personal identification of a US citizen being stolen, based on ICE. Furthermore, the injection of illegal drugs and weapons into the society eventually bears dangerous effects to the people by way of increased crime rates.
ICE’s DAD signed off with a threat to any deep web criminals, saying that their involvement with illegal activities on the dark web market will eventually be caught up with by the federal law enforcement, who are always on the lookout.