Silk Road 2.0 Key Player Gets 8 Years In Prison

Seattle. June 3rd, 2016. Brian Farrell, operating Silk Road 2.0 under the alias “DoctorClu,” was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones to 8 years in prison as filed under case No. 15-mj-00016.

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 <<

Benthall and UlbrichtFounder of the original Silk Road underground drug marketplace in early 2011, Ross Ulbricht aka “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was sentenced to life in prison back in May 2015. The second version of the site was launched in November 2013 weeks after authorities had shut down the original darknet site and seized its creator.

Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0 known as “Defcon,” was arrested in the year 2014 but denied creating the successor darknet site. However, its second-in-command staff administrator has admitted to the charges against him.

Key Player Unlocked

Silk Road 2.0Brian Farrell was arrested in January 2015, and during the search, federal agents discovered three handguns, drug paraphernalia, a myriad of prescription medications, computer media, 20 silver bullion bars with a $3,900 monetary value and cash amounting to $35,000. The silver and dollar evidence will be forfeited to the government in addition to the prison sentence.

He admitted his involvement with the second iteration of the darknet site when the authorities searched his Washington home ensuing Operation Onymous, an international crackdown that targeted suspected illicit marketplaces and various other Tor hidden services in the darknet.

The sentence followed months after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the distribution of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in March this year. These charges typically carry a minimum term of 5 years in prison.

The Department of Justice revealed in a 2015 press release that Silk Road 2.0 has amassed approximately $8 million generated sales per month. It had around 150,000 users who were granted the freedom to buy anonymously and sell illicit goods and services including drugs and computer hacking tools using the digital currency bitcoin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods has stated that the Silk Road is a threat to public safety and health, as the platform expands a serious drug market throughout the country and the world. In line with this is a clear message from the government that such cyber crimes are bound to be faced with serious penalties.

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Silk Road 2.0 Staff Member Admitted To Being “DoctorClu”

 

The darknet marketplace Silk Road 2.0 was closed down in November 2014, nearly a year after the site started its operations. Subsequently, Brian Farrel, the right hand man to Defcon, the operator of Silk Road 2.0, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine in January last year. Earlier, Brian Farrell has accepted a plea agreement in a district court in Washington’s Western District.
silk-road-2-0-brian-farrellFarrell has also formally admitted to operating as “DoctorClu,” a Silk Road 2.0 staff member. As a Silk Road 2.0 staff member, he provided customer support as well as technical support, promoted other employees and accorded approval to vendors, according to a document filed in the court earlier this month.

Though he admitted that he is guilty on one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, the reason for charging Farrell is not based on the fact he directly sold these products, but it is because of the position he held on Silk Road 2.0, the darknet marketplace that was used by drug dealers for selling their wares.

According to law, the penalties for such an offense may include five to forty years of imprisonment and up to $5,000,000 in fines. However, it has been agreed upon by the parties by way of the plea agreement that they will recommend eight years of imprisonment.

According to the plea agreement, initially Farrell purchased drugs through Silk Road 2.0 for personal use. The agreement also noted that he led a “denial-of-service-attack” on a competitor to Silk Road 2.0. Additionally, he acted as the spokesperson for Defcon, who took over control from Dread Pirate Roberts.

After Farrell’s arrest in Seattle last year, it emerged that he was one among the criminal suspects from dark web identified following the attack on Tor network launched by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Researchers from the SEI were successful in identifying the real IP addresses of some of the Tor hidden services, which included Silk Road 2.0, among others. Subsequently, the FBI subpoenaed SEI for the purpose of obtaining this information. As noted in Farrell’s search warrant, SEI was instrumental in identifying as many as 78 IP addresses that accessed Silk Road 2.0’s .onion address. One of these addresses led the law enforcement to Farrell.
0,,16462299_303,00In December last year in Ireland, two men, whose identities were revealed in SEI’s attack, were arrested and put in jail for drug offensives. Last month, the pedophile Gabriel Peterson-Siler, whose IP address also SEI obtained during their attack, pleaded guilty on one count, possession of child pornography. During the interview by FBI agents prior to his arrest, Farrell had reportedly told the agents they will not be able to find a bigger fish than him. In spite of Farrell’s statement, defense has been trying hard to obtain more access to discovery evidence, specifically the communications between the SEI and the Justice Department. However, more information about the Tor attack carried out by SEI is not likely to come out from the court as both Peterson-Siler and Brian Farrell have pleaded guilty. As of now, Brian Farrell is scheduled to be sentenced on June 3, 2016.

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Silk Road “CouponKing” Sentenced To 41 Months

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

court rulesA federal judge has sentenced Beau Wattigney to 41 months in prison for manufacturing and selling counterfeit coupons through Silk Road, an anonymous online marketplace that trafficked almost anything before it was shut down by the FBI in October 2013. Wattigney was in the lucrative dark web trade of fake coupons from 2012 to 2014.

The 30-year-old man from New Orleans pleaded guilty to running the scheme with the help of several co-conspirators and that they made the coupons to appear like original print-at-ho me coupons using the trademark logos of other companies. The charges were the latest to be levelled against people who have dealt with illegal items on Silk Road – including the kingpin, Ross Ulbricht, who was sentenced to life in prison.

Beau WattigneyMost online profiles have identified Mr. Wattigney as a system support technician at the ITT Technical Institute. According to the Justice Department, Wattigney sold thousands of fake coupons over a period of two years, from 2012 to 2014, affecting more than 50 different companies in the US, representing a possible loss to the businesses of more than $1 million. Wattigney and his team used logos of popular coupon distributors such as SmartSource, Hopster, RedPlum and Coupons.com.

Under online monikers such as PurpleLotus, NickMode and GoldenLotus, Wattigney sold the counterfeit coupons for every product imaginable including cigarettes, alcohol, beauty products, cleaning supplies, video games, and consumer electronics. Wattigney also sold products like $50 Visa Gift Cards for around $0.01 each. Some of his vouchers were also sold in packs for around $54.44.

According to prosecutors, Wattigney steadily made more than $75,000 between 2012 and 2014. Since his initial arrest, authorities have been promoting his case as part of a wider crackdown on cybercrime. Over the last few years, authorities have stepped up the fight against cybercrime and shut down several anonymous online shops, including Silk Road.

In one court document relating to Wattigney’s confession, his defence team wrote that Wattigney created these fake coupons himself, and with the help of other co-conspirators, including one individual who operates under the nickname “wraith.”

Wattigney sold his coupons through the original Silk Road site and its successor, Silk Road 2.0, and distributed them throughout the country. On the Silk Road 2.0, Wattigney marketed the items with the help of another other co-conspirators, and created an entirely new identity, “CouponKing,” so as to have control of the entire fake coupon market, read court documents.

The Coupon Information Corporation, a non-profit association dedicated to fighting fraudulent coupons, bought hundreds of coupons from Wattigney as part of their investigations. The FBI also retrieved transaction histories and messages on Silk Road server as part of their investigation into Wattigney.

The same month Wattigney was charged with fraud, a group of vendors calling themselves TeamLotus wrote on The Hub that they were taking control after PurpleLotus had “retired.” TeamLotus’ dark web marketplace is offline currently, and the seller has been listed as “Vacation Mode” on yet another popular marketplace for fraudulent activities – AlphaBay.

While not mentioned in the charges, Wattigney offered lessons that taught people how to create fake coupons. In his guide, “The Art and Science of Coupon Creation,” Wattigney gives comprehensive instructions on how to create authentic-looking counterfeit coupons. Wattigney’s tutorial is already in circulation and apparently in use. So while he may be in prison, his handiwork lives on.

But authorities have said that Wattigney’s case should put other counterfeiters on notice. They are determined to pursue their own fight against those who create and sell fraudulent stuff of any kind online.

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University Helped FBI Take Down Silk Road 2.0

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<
Remember that ominous Operation Onymous (pun intended)? Well, apparently an academic institution was involved in bringing down a number of dark web markets in 2014. It is speculated that the academic institution in question is in fact the Carnegie Mellon University, CMU that provided the crucial information to the FBI.

Just a reminder, Operation Onymous brought down as many as 27 dark web markets at the time, including Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 2.0 was launched just a month after the original, Ross Ulbricht’s Silk Road marketplace was seized by the FBI in 2013.

Message
What this new information brings into question is, first of all, the nature of the role academic institutions have in fighting crime on the dark web; and secondly, the fairness of the trials that followed after the operation, since allegedly the crucial evidence in discovery hasn’t been disclosed.

It began with the arrest of certain Brian Richard Farrell from Seattle, who quickly admitted that he was behind the nickname “DoctorClu” a member of Silk Road 2.0 staff.

The search warrant presented to Farrell by Special Agent Michael Larson says that the FBI received “reliable IP addresses for TOR and hidden services, such as SR2” from a “Source of Information (SOI).” The obtained information included the main marketplace, its forum, support interface and section typically accessed by staff and dealers only.

With the help of this information, the FBI was able to obtain the location of the Silk Road 2.0 servers, and ultimately to discovering another 20+ dark web marketplaces, fake and scam websites.

But, the mysterious Source of Information also provided some 78 additional IP addresses – users’ IPs – known to access the vendor .onion address.

Farrell was arrested and is currently on trial for conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

But, that’s all good news, right?

Well, perhaps.

In October this year, the government notified Mr. Farrell’s defense counsel in a letter stating that his “involvement with Silk Road 2.0 was identified based on information obtained by a ‘university-based research institute’ that operated its own computers on the anonymous network used by Silk Road 2.0.”

Silk Road 2.0
Symptomatically, the events mentioned above line up perfectly with the attack that happened in 2014 on the Tor network:

Sometime in July, 2014, Tor wrote in a blog post about certain indications that a group of relays were working to compromise the anonymity of users. Apparently, they were on to those who “operate or access Tor hidden services.” Eventually, Tor removed those relays, but the time this happened matches the time the FBI obtained the IP addresses of the dark web markets and their users from its trusted source.

Another symptomatic event was the Black Hat hacking conference where Alexander Volynkin and Michael McCord, both academics from Carnegie Mellon University. They were scheduled to present “how a $3000 kit can unmask the IP addresses of Tor hidden services” and their users. Surprisingly, the much anticipated talk was … canceled.

However, the description of the talk remarkably resembled the attack on the Tor network. Plus, the distinguished pair of academics also revealed that they “had tested attacks in the wild.”

A number of people familiar with Farrell’s case have come to believe that the mysterious source of information and the perpetrator behind the attack was in fact the CMU. However, whether these allegations are true or not has not yet been confirmed.

Is there a moral of the story?

Of course, always!

To start, let’s consider again how Tor network works. It operates through a network of trusted relays, nodes as they are called. The connection is encrypted and goes through a circle of relays to its destination.

Tor Networks
BUT, it’s been revealed by Tor Project that it is possible to deanonymize the user. Apparently, if the entry node is aware of the IP address of the user and the last node knows his destination – the connection can be intercepted and the IP address compromised. It was this vulnerability of Tor referred to in the description for the Black Hat talk by the two academics.

So, Is there anything users CAN do to reduce the risk of being deanonymized?

Again, of course!

The risk is significantly less if using Tor in combination with a decent VPN (Virtual Private Network). When using a VPN, you don’t connect automatically to the webpage you want. You first connect to VPN server which then forwards you to your desired webpage.

So, in the very first instance of this connection your IP address is different from your real IP; so, when you connect to Tor network – there is absolutely no way for the entry node to identify your IP address or your location.

Better still, there are VPNs that don’t keep any logs of users’ activity online, so even if asked by the authorities to deliver these logs – they can’t!

Moral? Despite a widespread discussion on the internet regarding this case – it’s the government’s job to catch the criminals, so it’s hardly their fault these guys fell. The fault also doesn’t rest with the CMU or any other academic institution for that matter. Had these guys used even the worst VPN in combination with Tor, they wouldn’t have been busted!

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Silk Road Fall – Will It Also Leads To Other Site’s Demise?

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silk Road 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Ross UlbrichtRoss Ulbricht, the mastermind of Silk Road black market, has been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole by a Manhattan federal court for creating the anonymous online illegal marketplace. He was labeled a criminal profiteer and a drug dealer and the government was unequivocal in saying that “a message should be sent out clearly that no individual is above the law.”

Silk Road allowed users to carry out illegal business anonymously by use of a mix of sophisticated privacy technologies to hide the identity of users from the law enforcement. Just like other black market sites, Bitcoin was being used to carry out all the transactions due to the pseudonymity it affords.

FBI insisted that Dread Pirate Roberts made mistakes that enabled detectives to discover his location and identity. The subsequent black markets were also brought down through similar errors. However, the explanations and evidence given by the investigators in court were not sufficiently convincing. This lead to speculations that the investigators used malware or enlisted NSA to assist track down the site together with its users within Tor.

It’s well known that users of Tor are vulnerable at the point where traffic enters and exits the Tor software. But, it is believed that it’s quite impossible to track its users within the network. However, if there is a good basis to the idea that detectives enlisted the assistance of NSA or used malware to bring down the site, it may be possible to uncover the real IP addresses of the Tor network users.

This would stop any chances of new black markets and would also inevitably lead to demise and prosecution of several other illegal sites that operates within the dark web. But, on the other hand, the lack of action by authorities suggests that this may not be the case.

Blake BenthallWhile the Silk Road and most of its immediate successors are gone, suggestion that the technology supporting these sites is flawed is based on speculation that NSA or the FBI have cracked them. If claims by the FBI that Blake Benthall, the mastermind of Silk Road 2.0 and Ulbricht were arrested due to their mistakes are sincere, then it is still possible for similar sites to escape demise in future.

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Alleged Silk Road 2.0 Operator Got Engaged

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. The best Darknet Market available is the Agora Marketplace. It has the best reputation and a bigger selection of goods than Silkroad 2.0.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace <<

Blake BenthallCongratulations are in order for Blake Benthall or “Defcon” as he was popularly known on Silk Road, he recently got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Stephie McKay, and the two are apparently planning to marry soon. They seemingly got engaged as of February 2015.

After being busted by undercover agents and admitting to his involvement in the Silk Road 2.0 saga, his legal status still remains unclear though he was reportedly working towards securing a deal with the prosecution.

If at all Benthall is found guilty of the Silk Road charges labeled against him and locked away, then the least a judge can give him in terms of prisoner privileges is regular conjugal visits from the wife. That way he’ll get to enjoy his marriage albeit the prison sentence handed over to him.

Alleged Silk Road 2.0In November 2014, Blake Benthall was arrested for allegedly running Silk Road 2.0, an illicit drug marketplace on the darknet best known for dealing illicit drugs. It was a black market site where users can trade illicit items and services anonymously. Silkroad 2.0 was accessible through an anonymizing Tor browser and used bitcoins in transactions. Blake Benthall was arrested in San Francisco and faced charges which includes money laundering, conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking, and computer hacking, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in  prison. It was alleged that the darknet site, Silkroad 2.0, was generating $8 million per month and had about 150,000 active users as of September 2014.

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Charged Silk Road 2.0 Mastermind Seems To Be Sending Tweets From His Jail Cell

If you want to visit Silk Road 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

Blake Benthal TweetsThe Silk Road 2.0 mastermind, Blake Benthall, denied responsibility of the tweets coming from his account. He had been arrested in San Francisco but plans are underway to move him to New York where the case will be handled. Blake Benthall is a computer genius and a known church goer by day. He had made over $8 million in a month on transactions alone through the Silk Road website according to the feds. The post recently reported 0.1244 Bitcoins being raised on an account that was posted on Blake’s Twitter feed with the message, ‘Donate Bitcoin’. There have been several jeer from the social media but few people have contributed an approximate of $50. However, Benthall has denied responsibility and claims his account was hacked.

Keyboard with DrugsAccording to his lawyer Jean-Jacques Cabou, Benthall remains in prison and cannot be tweeting from jail. He claims no family member or friends authorized the tweet or requested it. He says they had taken proper measures days ago to report the account had been compromised and any tweets coming out are unauthorized. They even don’t know the owner of the Bitcoin address that was posted together with the tweet. Claims of soliciting for money from people can put Benthall in more trouble but it still remains a mystery that sent the tweet. Hacking of accounts in twitter is not a new thing with several cases having taken place.

Benthall is alleged to have helped in the revival of the Silk Road 2.0 after the original Silkroad was shut down in 2013. How the feds managed to track down Benthall is unclear since the Tor program meant to protect user identity has never been cracked. People have even created several theories on the de-cloaking of Silk Road 2.0. It is hard to tell if Benthall sent the tweets since he still remains in jail. He might be a victim of hacking but we have to wait and see how his case goes.

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Deepnet Experts Look For Clues On How Dark Net Sites Were Uncovered

If you want to visit Silk Road 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

Tor LogoThe anonymity that Tor brings had made it very popular with criminals who used it effectively to conduct their businesses online. Tor was a program created to create anonymity to sites online. Tor routes a person surfing in the internet through several computers making the location of sites hidden. Criminal elements have used it effectively with Silk Road been one major site. This was used by drug dealers to transact their drug businesses and avoid the face to face transactions that usually led to gun fights. However, there has been seizure of several high profile sites in the past week. There have also been 17 arrests associated with the sites leading people to wonder how the sites were uncovered.

tor networkDeepnet experts are looking for clues to uncover how the law enforcement agencies were able to decloak these hidden sites. This was even a surprise to the Tor project team. This for now remains hidden and people have to wait for explanation in court where we hope the prosecutors will explain how the people became suspects. However, views from experts claim Tor has not been cracked yet. Dr. Steven Murdoch from the University College in London claims there are still several high profile hidden markets in operation. If they had cracked Tor, they probably could have seized all the hidden markets.

The shutdown of these hidden services was named ‘Operation Onymous’ and closed down 400 pages that were owned by 27 people. Most of these sites engaged in the sale of drugs, stolen credit cards and some illegal paraphernalia. The most high-profile closure was the Silk Road 2.0website majored in selling drugs after the shutdown of the original Silk Road last year.

Possible clues on how the dark net sites were uncovered

Poor operational security

This is one major failing in running websites where owners fail in minor security details. On the Silk Road 2.0 case, it was noted that the use of email address in the site led to the owner been identified. The email address code on the email led officers to Blake Benthall who was running the site.

Bugs in web applications

Elements with a page hidden by Tor can be vulnerable to exploits and bugs. This is just like in the open internet where we have interactive features and video players which could have been quickly coded.

Bitcoin ‘deanonymization’

All those operating illegal sites must have a way through which people can pay for the services or goods offered. Bitcoin is usually the virtual currency that such people use to receive payments. The use of normal payment is much easier to trace than Bitcoins but this does not mean Bitcoin is fully safe. It does not remain anonymous with some recent research showing ways through which Bitcoins can be linked to the user’s location

Denial of service attack (DoS)

This is very theoretical but there are chances that authorities could have used it. In this method, a site is flooded with several visits with the aim of forcing traffic to get into Tor owned computers which are usually monitored by the authorities.

It will always be difficult to know how exactly the authorities were able to decloak these sites and it is very unlikely that they will share the information. This is because they could want to use it again to arrest further criminal elements using hidden sites like the emergence of Silk Road 3.0.

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Accused Silk Road 2.0 Admin Worked As Contract Software Developer For Former Googler’s Secret Startup

If you want to visit Silk Road 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

Blake BenthallBlake Benthall who was arrested for allegedly running the Silk Road 2.0, an illegal online narcotics bazaar, was a contract software developer at Close. There isn’t much known about Close but the company’s CEO, Falson Fatemi describes it as stealth start-up founded by ex-Googlers and supported by New Enterprise Associates, Felicis Ventures and notable personalities like Dave McClure and Mark Cuban among others. Based on the CEO’s descriptions, Close it seems, is seeking to develop software plug-in that helps people make the most of their social network connections.

HandcopClose came to light after Benthall’s arrest. The company makes a brief but dramatic appearance in the Silk Road 2.0 charging documents. These documents state that he hosted his alleged dark web drug bazaar’s server on one of the subdomains of an Internet address belonging to Close. The documents further reveal that this address was being used by Close up till November 6, 2014. Federal investigators managed to snag this server sometime in May 2014 and where able to identify its physical location in a data center outside the US. Federal investigators got their hands on it anyway, took the computer offline and copied its contents to aid them in forensic investigations.

It is during this brief take-over that the site’s administrator ‘Defcon’ who federal agents allege is Benthall, went into a brief panic attack. It is said that his internet service provider put out several messages warning of the Silk Road 2.0 server’s offline status. The documents allege that ‘Defcon’ instructed the internet service provider not to reboot srv2.close.co server as there were critical processes that needed to be watched. Benthall’s former colleagues at Close including the CEO however seem not to be aware that the Silk Road 2.0 server was running on the company’s Close.co domain. The CEO responded on Twitter saying she could not believe the allegations. She further said she had worked with Blake in the past and to her, these allegations seemed out of character.

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SILK ROAD 2.0 And Other Black Market Sites Were Shut Down As Part Of Operation Onymous

If you want to visit Silkroad 2.0 then you will want to know that it was shut down by the feds on 5th November 2014 and the alleged operator “Defcon” has been arrested. The best alternative is Agora Marketplace, it actually has more listings than Silk Road 2.0. Silk Road 3.0 is ALREADY live and there will be more info about it here soon.

>> Click here to find the best alternative: Agora Marketplace. <<

DarknetJudicial agencies and law enforcement around the world undertook a joint action against Silkroad 2.0 and other black market sites running as hidden services on the Tor network. Sixteen European countries (United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Romania, Germany, France, Latvia, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland), alongside counterparts from the U.S, brought down several darknet marketplaces as part of an integrated international action called Operation Onymous, from the operational coordination center of Europol that is located in the Hague. The international action aimed to put an end to the sale, promotion and distribution of harmful and illegal items, including drugs and weapons, which were being sold on the online black markets.

Laptop computer with crime scene tape across itOperation Onymous was coordinated by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Europol’s European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3), Eurojust and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and it resulted in 17 arrests of administrators and vendors running these online marketplaces and seizure of 414 dark web domains. All of the darknet marketplaces in question were accessible through the Tor network, which according to those who took part in the investigation was compromised by means of an as yet undisclosed mechanism or tool. Additionally, bitcoins worth approximately USD 1 million, EUR 180,000 euro in cash, drugs, silver and gold were seized. Silkroad 2.0 was taken down and its alleged operator, 26-year-old Blake Benthall was arrested.

The alleged operator of Silkroad 2.0 was arrested due to what seem to be a series of obvious mistakes he made including, failing to mask his IP address when contacting the Silkroad 2.0 service providers and using an e-mail address ([email protected]) that included his name to register the Silkroad 2.0 servers. He also tweeted references to the Silkroad and to making bitcoin payments. He has been charged in court and if he’s convicted, he faces life in prison on drug trafficking, money laundering and other charges.

Operation Onymous is the second major operation that has been carried out against online darknet marketplaces. The first Silkroad, which had been launched in 2011, was shut down in October of 2013, and its alleged operator Ross Ulbricht was arrested. Silkroad 2.0 was launched a month later, and Blake Benthall is supposedly to have taken over the running of Silkroad in December of 2013.

It isn’t clear whether the operators of the other online darknet marketplaces that were shut down in the raid have been arrested, and if so, where their operations were located, but law enforcement is calling its action a clear victory.

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