Former Silk Road Employee Granted A Blue Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Silk Road Creator’s Mom Has Lost Faith In The US Justice System

Ross Ulbricht,the founder of the Silk Road, is in prison serving a double life sentence without parole since May 29, 2015. He was charged on many counts, including conspiracy to sell drugs, money laundering, etc. He worked under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” as the administrator of the website.

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 – Appeal for Retrial by Lyn

Lyn UlbrichtLyn Ulbricht, mother of Ross, in the meanwhile, has been working to file an appeal for a retrial of the case as she believes that the life sentence that was awarded to her son has been unjust. The appeal was filed on 12 January this year, and the government has to reply before 17 June this year.

Lyn said that she has lost faith in the US legal system and hoped that a retrial would take place soon. In this context, it is interesting to note that two government agents, Shaun Bridges and Carl Force, who were part of this case, were indicted on charges of corruption, theft of bitcoins and extortion.

Lyn Ulbricht said that the two agents had access to the highest administrative levels of the Silk Road, and they committed the crimes by changing, adding and removing data to the site. A lot of this tainted information was suppressed during the trial which Lyn claims is unlawful and goes against the Brady Rule. Some of the information was let out only after the trial, according to Lyn. This is the point bywhich she is demanding a retrial of the case against the Silk Road administrator. She believes that the basis for the retrial and its outcome would be of benefit to all Americans and would help to repose her faith on the American legal system.

Such a sentence was awarded to Ross, according to the concerned judges, only because he set an unhealthy precedent. He showed how the Internet can be used at its worst, they said. Lyn, however, felt that the sentence was unfair as the biggest drug dealer on the website was awarded a mere sentence of 10 years, and a cocaine-heroin dealer was awarded a 5-year prison term. The tainted agents received six- and seven-year terms.

Lyn’s Thoughts

Ross-UlbrichtThe Silk Road founder, Ross Ulbricht, has spent a year in prison now and his mother Lyn believes he becomes matured in the periodand is not as naive as when he started the website. She hopes that a retrial would allow her son to return to the society with a mind that has turned wiser and older. Her son was a person of libertarian thoughts who only wanted to offer people the experience of free markets, in every sense of the word. He had lectured on free markets before he was convicted and it was all that he wanted. On the day of his sentencing, Ross Ulbricht even said that he did not mean any harm to anyone by running the Silk Road.

Lyn believes that her fight for the retrial would contribute towards the protection of constitutional, freedom and privacy rights of all the Americans.

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User of Original Silk Road, Now Busted By Cops

Cannabis-Flower-1There have been several high profile and technical busts, targeting users, dealers, and administrators of some websites operating on the dark web. In one such recent case, the German police tracked down a person who had used the original Silk Road marketplace for buying cannabis, a few grams at a time.

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 <<

Gwern Branwen, an independent researcher, reportedly said that the authorities recently fined this person from Germany, who ordered cannabis seventeen times on the Silk Road and another darknet market, more than 3,000 euros. In one of the Reddit posts, he noted that he was directly contacted by the buyer to inform the same. Gwern even uploaded a letter addressed to the apparent user.

Motherboard pointed out that as the names, as well as other information contained in the letter written in March 2016 by the law authorities, were redacted, they could not contact the recipient of the letter. However, the letter indicated that the customer made 17 purchases – quantity varied from 1.5 grams to 7.4 grams of cannabis during the period January 2013 to October 2013.

Law enforcement authorities have punished many dark web users who purchased drugs from darknet markets like the Silk Road in the past. They have even tracked down people who bought weapons, poisons, and drugs such as methamphetamine or MDMA from websites operating on the dark web. Additionally, a few cases involving marijuana purchases have also been reported.

However, what makes this particular case notable is the fact that law enforcement is still keen on tracking down buyers years after the Silk Road was closed down by the federal agents in 2013. According to reports, the customer was identified after the German police busted a seller of cannabis who had maintained a record of all of his customers. The customer reportedly told Branwen that he always ensured that his address was encrypted whenever he provided it to vendors.

Based on this information, Branwen believes that the police might have sifted through the records available on the server used by the Silk Road to find out more about the purchases made by the customer as he used only one username consistently. However, it is not entirely clear as to how the authorities have managed to find one of the orders he placed on the Outlaw Market, which continues to operate on the dark web. The letter, however, noted that the communications between him and the Silk Road have been used.

reddit_log-100011890-large (3)Branwen also pointed out in the Reddit post that it is not sure as to how a buyer could get into any trouble or be prosecuted if he/she is not charged with possession of illegal drugs or packages addressed to the person has not been intercepted. He observed that the answer to this question seemed to be in the positive, at least in this case, in Germany.

Ultimately, this particular case goes on to show that even those people who have only used darknet markets briefly should be worried because law enforcement authorities could eventually track them down.

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Police Bust Silk Road Dealers In Norway

According to report, the Norway police’s largest ever online drug bust resulted in 15 arrests last month. According to the police, they nabbed fifteen people who traded drugs on the dark 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.

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

the-12-worst-drugs-to-get-addict (1)Kripos, the National Criminal Investigation Service in Norway, launched an investigation under the code name “Operation Marco Polo” on the dark web. This turned out to be the largest operation to nab the perpetrators of organized drug crime in the country. An Oslo newspaper, Verdens Gang, reported that the sting operation culminated in the arrest of 15 people. Out the 15 arrested, it is believed that five men are the biggest online dealers of drugs in Norway.

The origin of the case can be traced to theSilk Roaddarknet site. The closure of the Silk Road marketplacein 2013 was attributed to the audacity of Ross Ulbricht (known by the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts), the founder of Silk Road, who posted his personal e-mail address in one of the forums.

Blake Benthall, who operated Silk Road 2.0 under the pseudonym Defcon, committed the same mistake when he registered a server in his own name. This enabled the U.S. authorities not only to shut down the operation of the Silk Road 2.0 site, but also to obtain a list of customers’ as well as vendors’ names. The list also contained the names of the Norwegian traders who made use of the Silk Road marketplace for selling drugs.

Norwegian operators used pseudonyms like “Kvalitetsbevisst,” “Alfa&Omega,” and “Deeplove” on different darknet marketsincluding Silk Road. The police has nabbed and indicted as many as 15 people – 13 men and two women – as part of the Marco Polo investigation since 2014. According to the authorities, the people who bought drugs from the dark web planned to sell them locally.

After a long period of monitoring darknet activities, the police were able to founda 150 marijuana plants in total in various stages of growth in the house’sbasement in Skien. In addition, the police confiscated over 80 communications devices. This included computers, memory sticks and hard drives. Information contained in some of these devices was inaccessibledue to high-quality encryptionand, therefore, were of not much use in police investigations.

Richard Beck Pedersen, who played a key role in Operation Marco Polo, said that the drug dealers could not be identified prior to the operation as the targets made use of technological camouflage right from 2013 to ensure anonymity.

download (7)Another challenge faced by Kripos was following the money trail. This is because the drug dealers accepted payment in bitcoins for the products they supplied. As the digital currency and the payment system are not backed by governments or banks, users carry out direct transactions and this makes things difficult for law enforcement agencies keep track of the movement of the cryptocurrency. Further, transactions were carried out on dark web under the hidden Tor network, which masked the identities of the Silk Road users.

According to Chief Investigator Olav Roisli, it is difficult to track money as there are several stages of transactions when digital currency is used. Further, the advantage of using the dark web was that it enabled the dealers to obtain a large customer base as the customers did not have to visit the country in order to purchase drugs.

The customers were mostly young people who used drugs for recreational purposes and usually have limited access to a physical drug market. Further, these youngsters who bought drugs would not have been able to get them without accessing the dark web.

It is expected that the Operation Marco Polo would be concluded before summer.

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Students To Plot Efforts To Help Pass Marijuana Legalization

 

origins-drugsAt least 500 students and advocates from different states and nations had participated in the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) International Conference held between April 15 and 17 to discuss about the present state of drug policy and plans for future reforms.Marijuana legalization was the main topic asmore U.S. states gear up to legalize medical or recreational marijuana in the month of November.

In this connection, Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road marketplace, was among the speakers at the SSDP gathering. Other speakers include academics, elected members of the government, law enforcement and medical professionals. Ross Ulbricht is currently serving a life sentence in prison as punishment for many charges, including conspiracy with vendors to sell banned/illegal drugs through the Silk Road.

Demonstrations by both allies and studentsfollowed after the conference, whogathered outsideof the United Nations conferenceon the worldwide drug war.The protest occurred in time for the UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs, among the first ones to be organized in a span of two decades.

The young activists’ contention has been that officials always justify harsh actions on drug offenders as the right method to protect vulnerable youth from falling prey to destructive drug habits. However, the whole process has put youth at greater risks such as racial disparities during enforcement of drug laws, use of resources for building prisons instead of schools, provision of lesser funding for implementation of proven drug harm reduction strategies, among others. All these have caused much more harm, the young voices contend. The youth are looking to voice their opinion on how to change and combat drug use in the communities in which they live.

In more than five states in the US, voters may be casting their votes to legalize and regulate the use of marijuana in the month of November this year. This means a doubling of the number of states that are looking to end prohibition. It is also expected that the states of Florida and Ohio, that are considered important presidential swing states, will be casting their votes for ballot measures on medical cannabis. These are seen as important developments. In the past years, the youth activists have put in efforts to get as many young supporters of SSDP to find their way to get to the polls (in specific states) in a bid to increase youth turnout. The international arm of the SSDP made use of phone-banking to help supportive voters reach the poll venues.

Lyn Ulbricht

Screen-Shot-2013-11-20-at-5.57.08-PMLyn Ulbricht, mother of Ross Ulbricht, the Silk Road founder, has relocated from Texas to New York to be near her son who is serving a prison sentence. She has also been giving speeches, raising funds for her son’s appeal and making appearances in the media in an effort to educate the public about the issues in her son’s case. She has repeatedly stated that her son did not create the Silk Road as a drug site and is only a free market libertarian. She believes that he was sentenced because he was a political threat and the sentence meted out to Ross Ulbricht was draconian.

She believes that he is being penalized for all the drug lords that they have not arrested yet. The drug war that has been going on for the last 40 years are only increasing the number of persons convicted for drug crimes, some of them falsely, while the problem still continues to fester. The drug war has not stopped too many from doing drugs, she adds.

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Man Arrested For Selling Drugs On Silk Road And Other Darknet Markets

 

download (2)David Ryan Burchard from Merced in California was arrested for distributing cocaine and marijuana all over the US through darknet markets such as the Silk Road, AlphaBay, Abraxas and Agora. The man who is 38 years old operated under the nickname Caliconnect. According to the Federal authorities’ estimate, the total value of all the deals made by him is $1.43 million.

The investigation against Caliconnect, which involved several people and agencies, started in March last year. Matthew Larsen, an HSI agent, launched an investigation against Burchard after he sold bitcoins worth millions of dollars to a digital currency exchanger who did not have a license.

Authorities carried out surveillance on his vehicle and residence through GPS, which revealed mailing of parcels by Burchard from a post office. Jessica Burger, a Postal Inspector, identified Burchard. HSI agents also observed Burchard’s attempt to mail parcels to a person in North Carolina. They retrieved the parcel from the bin and sent it to North Carolina Postal Inspectors.

Burger who had obtained a warrant for searching the seized parcel went to Fresno HSI office and with Larsen opened the seized parcel and found marijuana in it. In the meantime, a Postal Inspector from North Carolina reported that the addresses written on the parcels were bogus and that the parcels consisted of a controlled substance. A search of the parcels after obtaining a warrant showed that they contained marijuana.

HSI agents also learned that Burchard operated under the moniker Caliconnect and they searched the Internet for more information about Caliconnect. They came across Reddit posts and found out the names of people who had ordered marijuana from him. A review of the Silk Road vendor list given by HSI Headquarters helped Larsen to locate Caliconnect’s name on the list.

On the Silk Road, Larsen determined, Caliconnect was the eighteenth largest vendor. His sales volume was $1,250,248.65. Larsen also came across a vendor by name the_real_caliconnect on Agora, who claimed to be a vendor at Silk Road, Silk Road 2.0 and the Black-Market Reloaded as well. He also sold marijuana. A search of the PGP key of the_real_Caliconnect on Grams showed that he operated under the name Caliconnect4life on AlphaBay.

In the meanwhile, Larsen determined, through postal tracking numbers, that the post offices used for sending the parcels were all located near to Burchard’s home. He also learned through DEA that a vendor with username Caliconnect2 bought phentermine from the Silk Road marketplace. A review revealed 977 transactions carried out by Caliconnect on the Silk Road marketplace and HSI determined that he sold 10.5 grams of cocaine and 704 pounds of marijuana.

Subsequently, Larsen along with another HSI investigator obtained surveillance photos from Raley’s Supermarket, which helped people ship products, to get pictures of Burchard as he booked parcels from this supermarket. Larsen followed David Burchard to Raley’s Supermarket and reviewed response received from AccountNow as regards a Prepaid Visa card. The information from AccountNow matched with the data Larsen had collected on Burchard.

Intern Mann, Daniel, a detective in Fresno Police Department, and Larsen contacted Caliconnect4life using username Megiddo to buy half a pound of marijuana (OG Crack) for $900. The packet was to be delivered at Buffalo in New York. Caliconnect4life informed Megiddo through a private message as to when the delivery can be expected. Larsen received the packet at the specified address.

Following this, Larsen obtained a warrant to search Burchard’s residence. It was executed by the IRS, Larsen, the USPIS, other HSI agents, California Highway Patrol and the Police Department in Merced. They found Burchard, his wife, and 3 children at home. They also seized various computers, storage devices and other items that are normally associated with narcotics. They also found clothing with Caliconnect label on it.

Though Burchard denied selling marijuana, he did admit that his clothing brand’s name was Caliconnect. Further, computer forensics revealed incriminating evidence about his dealings in the darknet markets.

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OpenBazaar Unlikely To Be The Next Silk Road

Do you want to buy R2D2 t-shirts, a dog or a cat, or Rick and Morty’s imagery products? Well, these are the things you are likely to find on OpenBazaar. After a very long gestation period, the beta version of the peer-to-peer digital mall has been made available for testing purposes. The full launch is expected to happen later this month.

What OpenBazaar proposes is a distributed marketplace without a central authority for holding accounts, use of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and some rules that are non-existent as of now. This has led to assumptions that OpenBazaar would be the next-generation of difficult-to-trace darknet markets like the Silk Road. The Silk Road was infamously known as a platform for selling illicit drugs. OpenBazaar may still be in its initial stages, but as of now it resembles an anarchist eBay on acid, according to Forbes.

What Is OpenBazaar

OpenBazaar, an open source project, creates a network for decentralized online peer-to-peer commerce using Bitcoin. It does not charge any fees and it cannot be censored.

OpenBazaar
Typically, online commerce uses centralized services, employs restrictive policies and charges fees for both listing and selling products. The forms of payment accepted by them cost money to buyers and sellers. Further, personal information is required to be provided. Buyers and sellers are generally not allowed to exchange products and services with each other because companies and governments can censor entire trade categories.

OpenBazaar redefines online commerce by putting power back in the hands of users. OpenBazaar connects buyers and sellers directly. There will be no middlemen and, therefore, there will be no fees, no censoring of transactions and you can choose as to what personal information you want to reveal.

What Benefits Does OpenBazaar Offer

One of the key benefits offered by OpenBazaar is anonymous trading. Encryption helps to prevent simple snooping. The peer-to-peer setup prevents governments from targeting a centralized body with the help of a technical taskforce or subpoena. It may not be impossible to bring the network crumbling down, but it would be considerably harder to do that. Further, the chat feature offered by OpenBazaar will be end-to-end encrypted to prevent mass government surveillance.

Why OpenBazaar Would Not Operate Like the Silk Road

All said and done, there are a few reasons as to why OpenBazaar is not likely to be like the Silk Road. The first and foremost reason is that people who have the technical capability can view the IP addresses of users. By pulling out data from the OpenBazaar API, a crawler that is capable of mapping out information about all of the participants in the network can be built. If the police have a warrant, they can quickly identify and locate individuals who are not masking their IP address by using a VPN or Tor. In fact, OpenBazaar warns people during registration that users would not be anonymous by default and that IP addresses are public even though most of the communications between parties is encrypted.

OpenBazaar Sites

The second key aspect is the credentials of the chief purveyors of OpenBazaar. They are Brian Hoffman, who worked as a lead associate for cybersecurity at Booz Allen Hamilton, old employer of Edward Snowden; Sam Patterson, a Bitcoin specialist; and Dr. Washington Sanchez, an academic. Their goal is to create a platform that is free from government control so that companies are in a position to make more money by getting rid of the middleman. Bitcoin helps to do away with middlemen, credit card providers and banks, who take a cut from each of the transactions. Even the darknet markets like the Silk Road are not free from the involvement of middlemen. However, in the case of OpenBazaar, the dealings are directly between the buyers and sellers.

Finally, the purveyors are not likely to earn anything by creating the OpenBazaar network. That is why they have founded OB1, which aims at bringing big names to the network. They will partner with these companies for setting up certain stores. Additionally, OB1 will also provide merchant support services like vetting legitimate businesses, arbitration, etc., for a charge. According to Patterson, hundreds of individuals and businesses have requested that they be notified when OpenBazaar goes live. He also added that peer-to-peer commerce is not going to be popular overnight on the Internet and that they are in this for the long haul.

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The Silk Road 2.0 Dread Pirate Roberts

During its active days, the Silk Road 2.0 was being operated by a mysterious man only known as DPR2 by those who worked closely with him. One of such individuals is Blake Benthall, the administrator and main coder of SR2, though he was ultimately arrested in San Francisco just like Ulbricht who was arrested a year earlier.His boss has meanwhile remained anonymous up to date, only described by authorities as a darkweb drug lord who managed to get away.

Blake Benthall

In a certain private interview, the alleged Dread Pirate Roberts 2 (DPR2) divulged that he had social nights with friends and even cooked dinner while still working on his computer. On one side he was preparing food for some friends, while at the same time running a multimillion narcotics marketplace from a laptop. His computer was wide open whilst making food and even had information running on it, but since none of the friends understood IT matters they did not know what was happening concerning the Silk Road 2.0. Such were the moments when his illegal drug empire came closely to colliding with real-life situations.

Court documents filed by a special FBI agent describe the Silk Road 2.0 as an extensive, complex and widely used criminal bazaar operating on the web. According to state records, at one point in time it was generating sales worth approximately 8 million US dollars in a single month. Despite its illegal tendencies, those behind the site still claimed that it was ideologically driven by a desire for more Internet freedom. Dread Pirate Roberts 2 allegedly presumed a larger-than-life persona, making grandiose statements on the site’s forum about the Silk Road 2.0 and what it represented.

Shortly before the website was launched following shutdown of its predecessor, he said that it would “echo around the world.” Further reiterating that their struggle wasn’t over and also hoping users could carry on fighting vigorously with courage plus dedication as they did in the past before the original Silk Road was taken down. He said Dread Pirate Roberts is immortal due to his libertarian movements, if people devoted themselves to those particular ideals then there’s no way enemies of Internet freedom could ever stop them. DPR2 maintained that authorities may have sunk one ship but in the process awoken the kraken.

As a dedicated veteran of the Silk Road, he spearheaded its relaunch after the original frontrunner site was closed about a month earlier. Before officially opening it, DPR2 says he sat there for about 5 minutes staring at the computer screen. Knowing very well that after hitting enter button a massive manhunt will be launched against him.

Nevertheless, at a particular point upon debuting it he started laughing uncontrollably for about 30 seconds. Describing this event as multiple emotions blended into one. He knew that a line had already been crossed, but still decided to take things further by openly taunting law enforcement on SR2 login page. The man placed a banner that read “THE HIDDEN SITE HAS RISEN AGAIN” to alter what authorities usually place on a darkweb marketplace after seizing it.

That character showcased itself in the man’s life at certain points, escaping arrest also meant keeping secrets from friends and kin. In fact, DPR2 once admitted that he constantly struggled to make his involvement with the Silk Roadanonymous. At some point lying to people became necessary when things were not adding up, according to him running a massive, multimillion-dollar drug business clandestinely was a major secret.

However, as months went by he started questioning himself and whether his actions were correct. Some level of paranoia also cropped in, with DPR2 constantly worrying if one day he went out drinking and imbibed on way too much liquor such that this information came out unconsciously when chatting with friends. Hiding the secret from them also made him feel bad.

Speaking about the Silk Road 2.0, Senator Tom Carper, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, warned that this new website launched just a month after cops took down the first Silk Road shows how technology is dynamic. It’s ever evolving nature means that government policies should adapt accordingly.

Senator Tom Carper

Though DPR2 claimed to have generated only four figures while working on this site, there are credible rumors SR2 was clearing up to $400,000 per day. However, he suggests that most of the money was donated to organizations championing for technology & drug policy rights. DPR2 claims the intention of running this drug site was not making money but rather enjoying the thrill of breaking the law. He says there are certain levels of entertainment that once reached it feels like a drug, one cannot easily get off such tendencies upon reaching the desired heights.

According to him, most people will never come to experience this feeling because of its nature. Only a few brave individuals can defy the US government with just a computer and nothing else. This experience is incomparable to anything on earth.

Despite the shenanigans, FBI still managed to seize Silk Road 2.0 in November 2014 as part of an investigation dubbed “Operation Onymous,” which also targeted other illegal darknet sites apart from SR2. They managed to infiltrate the server thanks in part with help from government-funded researchers from Scientific Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University.

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Prosecutor Who Led The Silk Road Investigation Joins Law Firm

A Manhattan-based federal prosecutor responsible for spearheading the Silk Road investigation is now joining Latham & Watkins law firm. He was active in the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht amongst other prominent cybercrime cases. Serrin Turner was a former assistant U.S. attorney in the

U.S. Attorney’s Office with lots of influence in determining court proceedings such as that of the Silk Road. He also participated in Liberty Reserve case which involved unauthorized transactions of digital currency. Turner will now be a partner in his new workplace, with offices in New York City.

Emerging cybersecurity issues have driven up demand for lawyers who know the industry well; this played a role in getting Serrin a place at Latham which is one of the most prestigious law firms in America today.

Turner’s hiring comes amidst a slew of sustained cyberattacks against private firms and even government itself. Chair of Latham’s litigation & trial department, Miles Ruthberg, said that cybercrime is particularly more rampant and there’s in fact a shortfall of lawyers to serve it now. Despite the shortage of attorneys, Ruthberg still says that it’s not a surprise given everything they know about what’s happening. Having participated in taking down the Silk Road mastermind, Serrin would make a great addition to this noble company.

The former Manhattan state prosecutor will join Latham & Watkins in late March, particularly focusing on data-protection and cybersecurity issues. He had previously been working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal investigations, which is where the Silk Road case was first brought up for trial. Turner was with this division since 2010 acting as a cybercrime coordinator.

In his most acclaimed case ever, he served as lead prosecutor for the Silk Road case, an underground dark web site that facilitated drug sales worth over $200 million through bitcoin digital currency. Ross Ulbricht, who prosecutors said operated Silk Road under the moniker “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was arrested in 2013 after authorities seized the site. A federal court found him guilty of charges including conspiracy to traffic narcotics; he was given life sentence in May 2015, though an appeal against this ruling has already been made by his defense team.

Dread Pirate Roberts

In a recent interview, Turner stated the Silk Road investigation showed that even in high profile cases such as this one, where the site was actively designed to be unreachable for law enforcement agencies, authorities could still narrow down on culprits and bring them to book. The main challenge with combating cybercrime is ensuring similar actions cannot be repeated online without culprits facing certain repercussions.

Turner also oversaw prosecution of Liberty Reserve, which laundered well over $6 billion for offenders involved in Ponzi schemes, child pornography, hacking and drug trafficking. He worked with other prosecutors to secure guilty pleas from 5 suspects, including co-founder Arthur Budovsky who admitted the charges in January on his trial eve.

Latham & Watkins clients have been raising concerns on the need for improving web security; this is after several hacking attempts were made on private companies and state departments in the past with considerable success. Most of them don’t want to end up this way, where confidential material falls into the hands of unscrupulous people often with bad intent.

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Former Silk Road Agent Attempted To Flee The Country, Re-Arrested

>> Click here to find the AlphaBay Market Guide <<

bridges.headshotFormer Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges was re-arrested on 28th of January 2016. This arrest comes just one day before he was scheduled to turn himself in to prison authorities in Baltimore to begin his sentence of 71 months for the theft of 20,000 bitcoins with an estimated value of about $800,000 in connection to investigations into the Silk Road. He was suspected of trying to flee the country and so had to be arrested. Prosecutors say the arrest went without incident, but that the arresting officers discovered passports, bulletproof vests and documents for offshore companies in Mauritius, Belize and Nevis. At least one of the bullet proof vests had Secret Service markings on it and is therefore believed to have been stolen from the government.

Also discovered during the arrest were documents for his wife, Ariana Esposito, which shows her attempts at obtaining citizenship in a different country. A MacBook with scratched off serial number and an iPad were also discovered. Exactly what all of the evidence means is hard to say but prosecutors argue that it is enough proof that Bridges never intended to report to prison authorities as scheduled.

Sentencing to 71 months

Shaun Bridges pleaded guilty in October 2015 to charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice in connection to the Silk Road case, and agreed to pay $500,000 in restitution. He was then released on bail and later sentenced to 71 months in jail in December 2015.

During his sentencing back in December, 2015, Bridges was ordered to forfeit all funds which are a result of the Bitcoin theft from the Silk Road. These include $475,000 in cash, and funds held in investments. The US District Judge Richard Seeborg while sentencing Bridges said the case was to him an extremely serious crime which consisted of the betrayal of the public’s trust from a public official, and that it was motivated by greed. And although he hardly ever finds himself in a position to impose high-end sentences, he did find it warranted in this case.

A little background of the Bitcoin theft

As a Secret Service agent, Shaun Bridges was charged with guarding the members of the First Family. He has also worked for the National Security Agency and has been considered a kind of hero. But after he got assigned to the Silk Road Task Force, things started to change.

In May of 2013, Bridges wired $820,000 from his account at Mt. Gox, which was the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world back then into an account belonging to Quantum International Investments, LLC, a company he had just registered in February of the same year. Two days later, he closes down Mt. Gox by seizing $2.1 million in its accounts with a seizure warrant against Mt. Gox which he organized. While on the surface, everything looked like he was a serious cop doing his job, the seizure of the funds at Mt. Gox was actually a stunt to prevent authorities from finding out about his $820,000 because he had heard that an investigation was being carried out against Mt. Gox. By this action, the investigation was shut down but Bridges’ problems were not yet over.

The Curtis Green Story

Early in 2013, the Silk Road Task Force, with which Shaun Bridges worked, had a major breakthrough in their case against the Dread Pirate Roberts, the owner of the Silk Road. They arrested a man named Curtis Green, who was a moderator on the website, and in order to receive a lighter punishment, Green decided to cooperate with the authorities.

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Having decided to help the “good guys” as he put it, he went ahead to give 100% detailed information on any question asked him. He revealed to the agents how to log onto the Silk Road servers, how to change passwords, and how to perform other administrative tasks. According to Green, one agent kept asking him over and over to describe how to log in, and how to change passwords, that agent was Shaun Bridges.

Making the Steal – 20,000 Bitcoins

Having taken enough notes from the interrogation of Curtis Green, Bridges went to work on the servers of the Silk Road, he changed the passwords of all the drug dealers on the website, thereby locking them out of their accounts, and then transferred all their bitcoins into the account of Curtis Green. They were approximately 20,000 bitcoins in total, and they had an estimated worth of about $300, 000 then.

Framing Curtis Green

When Bridges transferred the bitcoins he stole into Green’s account on the Silk Road, he had effectively made it seem like it was Green who had stolen the money. The members of the site who have lost money then also later heard that Green was cooperating with the authorities and his frame-up was complete. He explained that he received well over 30 death threats from people who though he had stolen their money, and that the Dread Pirate Roberts himself ordered hit on him.

Unluckily for the Dread Pirate Roberts, one of the killers he hired on the website was none other than Carl Mark Force IV, who was working undercover on the Silk Road. The agents worked together with Green to fool the Dread Pirate Roberts into believing he had been murdered. They took pictures of him lying in a dead position and faked it well, DPR believed it, and it was this hit on Green that would help cause his arrest.

The Turnout

In May 2014, Carl Mark Force IV, who was not very careful with his illegal activities got reported by a Bitcoin exchange named Bitstamp. On March 18, 2015, Bridges was suspended as a result of Mark Force’s case having shed light on his own illegal activities. He resigned, and things have been getting worse for him since then.

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Today, he is in jail, his wife, Ariana Esposito, who quickly married him so as to evoke spousal immunity and not testifies against him in court, has lost her chance for a job as a state trooper, after having completed the trooper academy. Ross Ulbricht a.k.a the Dread Pirate Roberts was sentenced to life in prison and Carl Mark Force IV was sentenced to six and a half years. Curtis Green was sentenced to time served and is currently undergoing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

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