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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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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Ex-Silk Road Secret Service Agent Alleged Of Additional Thefts

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

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

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

Silkroad Theft

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

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

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

Two-fold Stolen Bitcoin Cases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Battle between Microsoft and the US Gov. Related to Silk Road Emails

The long-running battle between the tech giant Microsoft and the US government is over government’s access to an Irishman’s emails, which are purportedly related to Silkroad investigation. The emails stored in servers on Ireland have become the center of controversy as Gary Davis was accused of being part of the now defunct illegal online drugs black market Silkroad as an administrator.

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 <<

microsoft-email-battler-silk-roadAccording to the report, the said email account belonged to the 28-year old alleged Silkroad administrator, Gary Davis, from Wicklow, Ireland. The report also noted that the federal investigators filed a warrant in 2013 seeking access to his emails. Currently, he is fighting a legal battle to prevent extradition to the U.S. on charges that he operated as a Silkroad administrator. Though Davis appeared in a court in Dublin recently in this connection, the case has been adjourned to 8th July.

The online drug marketplace Silkroad, which was shut down in 2013 by the law enforcement authorities, operated on the dark web using the hidden service Tor so that users could buy illegal items such as drugs, fake documents, and weapons anonymously. The creator of Silkroad, Ross Ulbricht, has been served a life sentence after he was found guilty of charges including money laundering, conspiracy to drug trafficking, and computer hacking.

Paul Ennis, a researcher at the Center for Innovation, Technology and Organization of the University College Dublin, reportedly said that the U.S. government would not upset an ally like Microsoft or the country Ireland. This was happening only because of the embarrassment caused by Silkroad.

Ddavisavis himself provided further evidence when he tweeted that he feels that the battle between Microsoft and the U.S. government is centered on his emails, linking to the Silkroad case.

The battle between the tech major and the federal government can be traced back to December 2013 when District Court in the U.S. passed a judgment in connection with the Silkroad case, compelling Microsoft to hand over the emails belonging to a person whose nationality was not known but was suspected to be a drug trafficker.

Microsoft promptly handed over the information (not related to content) that had been stored on their servers in the U.S. but refrained from handing over the emails, saying that the federal government did not possess the rights to access content that is stored on servers located outside the U.S.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the U.S. is currently considering the case and the privacy advocates and technology companies are eagerly awaiting judgment in the case related to Silkroad investigations. In this connection, it is important to note that other technology companies have filed amicus briefs like Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Amazon and Cisco in support of Microsoft. The ACLU, the Irish government, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have also backed the stance taken by Microsoft.

E. Joshua Rosenkranz, the lawyer representing Microsoft in this case about Silkroad investigation, cited an opinion of the Supreme that was issued in another case that would back up its argument that the U.S. laws are not applicable outside the country unless it has been explicitly provided for by the Congress.

It is expected that the court would give its ruling on the Silkroad related case sometime next month. However, it is also anticipated that the losing side is likely to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court.

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Re-Trial for Ross Ulbricht Not Looking Good

Silkroad founder, Ross Ulbricht, has been in prison since May 2015 after he was given a double life sentence without the possibility of parole. Ulbricht was charged on many counts, such as money laundering, conspiracy to sell drugs, and for creating and running Silkroad – a dark web site that enables its users to sell and buy drugs. While administrating the Silkroad website, Ulbricht used “Dread Pirate Roberts” as his pseudonym.

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 <<

images (2)A year on, Ulbricht, his mother Lyn, and his defense team are working on an appeal for a re-trial. Lyn Ulbricht filed an appeal for a re-trial of the case in what she and the defense team believes that the double life sentence given to her son was unjust. The 170-page argument that the defense team presented is Ulbricht’s final hope of escaping a double life sentence that he is now serving at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, NY. They filed the appeal on January 12, this year, and a reply was received from the government on June 17.
Their most important refutation concerns the argument over the role of the two corrupt agents who ended up using their roles in the Silkroad investigation to steal and extort money from Ross Ulbricht, and whose participation was kept undisclosed from the jury, and to some degree even from Silkroad founder defense team during his trial.

ross-ulbrichtUlbricht’s defense argues that the evidence revealing the corrupt federal agents had unfettered, high-level admin access to Silkroad; and the power to remove, add, and change material to the website; as well as pocket over a million US dollars, was covered up, and the jury was not allowed to know it.

Not only was the evidence tainted, but was kept unknown until after the trial was over. Silkroad founder defense team argues that the action is against the law and a direct violation of the “Brady Rule.” This is one of the major issues it has addressed in the appeal, but there are several weighty challenges to the Silkroad investigation and trial.

But, his re-trial doesn’t look as though it is going to be good as the prosecution team has now hit back with its own, equally large document refuting each and every one of those arguments.

In its 186-page document presented on the evening of June 17, the prosecution rehashed much of Ross’ 11-day trial in 2015 and defended repeated decisions by District Court Judge Katherine Forrest in its favor – a series of moves to deny defense witnesses, clamp down on defense evidence, and admit its evidence that led his lawyers to call for a mistrial not less than five instances.

Initial efforts by Ulbricht’s lawyers to take the case to court were earlier on thwarted by Judge Katherine Forrest in March. In her memo back then, Judge Forrest shot down a series of arguments presented by Ulbricht’s defense team including the corruption charges that were slapped on former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges and former DEA agent Carl Mark Force.

The two allegedly blackmailed Ulbricht and ended up extorting thousands of dollars from Silkroad. The defense team also pointed out that the period allocated to them for reviewing the evidence was not sufficient. The defense also cited unfair, denying Fifth Amendment rights for their client during the Silkroad hearing.

However, the argument by the defense that it was completely kept in the dark regarding Carl Mark Force’s misbehavior till the trial was concluded, and was not also told about the role that Shaun Bridges played doesn’t look good for Ross Ulbricht’s re-trial. In its latest hit-back, the prosecution argues that any disclosure it should have made as regards Silkroad investigation is irrelevant because Bridges’ and Force’s behavior had nothing to do with challenging Silkroad founder’s guilt.

They continue to argue that his appeal based on the corruption of the two federal agents doesn’t add up for the simple reason that, be that as it may, Ulbricht hasn’t explained how the information he pursued to admit or compel was exculpatory. Nowhere does Ross Ulbricht explain how Shaun Bridges and Carl Mark Force’s Silkroad crimes impeach the prosecution’s “overwhelming” evidence.

The 186-page prosecution document includes a laundry list of very compelling evidence against the Silkroad founder that it argues has no any relation to the two corrupt federal agents. That critical proof includes records of transactions on a bitcoin public ledger referred to as the “blockchain” that traces $18 million bitcoins sent from the Silkroad servers to his laptop, a journal and logbook found on that laptop, and FBI agents catching Ross Ulbricht red-handed in a library in San Francisco, logged into Silkroad as its administrator, even gaining access to a so-called “mastermind” page. Ulbricht’s defense team has so far declined to comment on the rebuttal by the prosecution.

And even though Ulbricht’s defense lawyers have argued that Force or Bridge used their illegal access to Silkroad to tamper somehow with its account or even plant evidence on the laptop, the prosecution has responded by stating that the Silkroad staff account that was hijacked from an informant by Shaun Bridges did not actually have the “root” access crucial for that sort of tampering.

It also goes on to argue that the defense knew about the crimes that Force committed on Silkroad to the extent that if it had suspected some evidence-planting on Ross Ulbricht’s laptop, it ought to have tried to demonstrate foul play during the trial.

In fact, Ross Ulbricht’s defense lawyers did make arguments that evidence-planting could have been possible on his laptop through a BitTorrent connection, but the prosecution appeared to proof that bogus to the jury. Prosecutor Serrin Turner has stated that there was nothing that was planted on Ulbricht’s laptop to affect the Silkroad case.

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Australia To Auction 24,518 BTC Confiscated From Silk Road User

The Australian authorities will be auctioning off 24,518 bitcoins estimated to be worth $12.9 million; these bitcoins were originally seized from a user of the now defunct darknet marketplace Silkroad. The auction will be held by Ernst & Young global professional services company.This sale will mark an end to a process that started in late 2014 when authorities confiscated the bitcoins from a Silkroad user known as Richard Pollard. Pollard is a Melbourne resident who was later given an 11-year prison sentence on charges of commercial drug trafficking on Silkroad.

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-ulbrichtRoss Ulbricht, the creator of the original Silkroad, was arrested in October 2013 and was sentenced to life in prison for running the infamous dark web marketplace Silkroad in 2015. The US Marshals Service auctioned off more than 170,000 bitcoins confiscated after the shutdown of Silkroad, which includes 144,000 bitcoins seized by the authorities from the Silkroad creator’s laptop. Last year,the final auction held by the US Marshals Service saw 44,000 Silkroad bitcoins put up for bidding.

Ernst & Young said in a press statement that the auction of bitcoins seized from the Silkroad user will be conducted over a 2-day period starting from 12.01am on 20th June 2016 Australian time. Just like other previous auctions held in the US by the US Marshals Service (USMS), all bitcoins for sale will be subdivided into blocks consisting of 2,000 BTC, which are approximately worth $1million,with 11 unique blocks up for sale. In a short statement, the company’s transactions partner, Adam Nikitins said that he’s optimistic that the bitcoin auction would attract buyers from both Europe and North America since they participated heavily in the last four open sales held in the US.

Australia To AuctionAccording to Nikitins, they are targeting sophisticated investors who appreciate the value of putting their money in an expanding digital asset.
Participants can directly submit their applications to E&Y for inclusion into the forthcoming bitcoin auction; deadline for submission is on 7th June,with Ernst & Young hoping to collect all necessary information for the event before 10th June.

This event is expected to take place just before official halving of anticipated rewards paid off to the bitcoin network’s transaction processors, which is scheduled to occur a month later in July. The timing of events suggests that economic fluctuations of bitcoin market rates play a huge role in determining when to auction seized cryptocurrencies.

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FBI Team That Takedown Silk Road, Where Are They Now?

drugs-and-computer-10-4-131Buying drugs online has evolved from niche activity for the avante-garde tech-savvy individual to commonplace as it presents a convenient way for users to get what they need and want. The dark web has created a safer environment compared to meeting up with a bloke backed up by goons of bodyguards, and Silkroad rose up to be the best-known platform for illicit drugs soon after its launch in 2011 as the very first modern darknet market.

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 <<

As well as drugs, a host of other illegal products, wares and services were for sale at Silkroad, including fake passports, fake drivers’ licenses,hacking techniques, and digital goods such as pirated content. Despite harboring freedom for a good cause that rightfully serves Tor users with their privacy and security in mind, for these blatant reasons, the Silkroad was brought down- and it was no easy task.

After two and a half years in operation, the Silkroad servers were seized, the creator Dread Pirate Roberts has been unmasked, whilst both vendors and customers’ private accounts have been exposed to government scrutiny. This was not without the risks of dealing with America’s high-profile cybercriminals and trying to beat them in their own game, just like how they handled the Silkroad operators. The case was closed by no other than the FBI’s cyber-crime unit, a team who has managed to unwrap the tricky layers of The Onion Router and penetrated the Silkroad hideout.

Cybersecurity Mercenaries

Former FBI Agent Christopher Tarbell previously stated that Silkroad was the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace during that time. He’s only one among top cybersecurity talents who have all found their way to greener pastures at the Berkeley Research Group (BRG).

In February, BRG proudly announced the new gang lineup off the world’s foremost cybersecurity experts and 2013’s Silkroad key investigators: Matthew Edman, former Tor developer and part of FBI Remote Operations Unit; Thomas Brown, former federal prosecutor named BRG’s Global Leader as director of cybersecurity and investigations; computer scientist Thomas Kiernan and digital extraction technician Ilhwan Yum as associate directors.

The significant names each played a crucial role in investigations aside from Silkroad, and prosecutions of groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec, while some worked with infamous hacktivist turned federal informant Hector Monsegur. Alongside Silkroad, they investigated a NASDAQ Russian hack, the $6 billion money-laundering case against Liberty Reserve’s cryptocurrency, the hacks of Citibank, PNC Bank, Rove Digital botnet, and Samarth Agrawal’s prosecution.

No doubt, their expertise and extensive experience beyond Silkroad on national security matters and intelligence agencies make each expert for hire invaluable to BRG. The titan consulting firm’s founder Dr. David Teece refers to Tom and his group as not in any way run-of-the-mill cybersecurity consultants, rather a veteran team that’s undeniably of incredible value to their clients across the board. Brown expresses that their strength lies in their experience, which does not only apply to critical cybersecurity issues and crises like the Silkroad case, but in their ability to work together which gives them confidence that will lead to top-notch results for their clients.

The Growth of the Private Industry

Indeed, the former FBI team that led to the Silkroad bust is highly valuable to federal law enforcement agencies, only the government is unable to keep up with salary perks the private industry can generously give. BRG clients include Bank of America, General Electric, and U.S. Steel, among many of the world’s biggest industries and wealthiest companies like the multi-billion-dollar tobacco giant Philip Morris which Teece successfully defended. The firm brings in annual revenue amounting to tens of millions of dollars.

Thomas Galati, NYPD intelligence chief
Thomas Galati, NYPD intelligence chief

Thomas Galati, NYPD intelligence chief, told Congress that the private industry provides a lot of opportunity which attracts the best people out there. James Comey, FBI Director, admits to the continual challenge of the Bureau when it comes to retaining good cybersecurity talent like the guys who went off the charts in the shutdown of the Silkroad dark web site.

The private industry of cybersecurity is expected to grow to more than $170 billion by the year 2020. To top it off, extending from the scope of the private sector is Hollywood’s 21st Century Fox offering high-paying deals for being exclusive sources for the studio’s book, feature articles, and highly anticipated movie based on the Silkroad case.

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The Silk Road And The Changing Drug Laws

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 <<

The launch of the darknet marketplace Silkroad led to the proliferation of illicit activities on the internet. Politicians, especially Charles Schumer, quickly started targeting Silkroad and the website was shut down by the law enforcement in 2013. However, the concept of distributed, anonymous and peer-reviewed e-commerce using digital currency originated by Silkroad is here to stay.

ross-ulbrichtThe central theme of the operations in the darknet marketplace is bitcoin, the digital currency developed by a person known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, which enables pseudonymous transactions. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silkroad who was convicted, leveraged bitcoin technology to enable purchase and sale of illicit goods on his website. During the heydays of Silkroad, researchers from academic institutions demonstrated as to how the transactions executed using bitcoin could be tracked as well as analyzed.

The reputation of Silkroaddeclined after the hire-for-murder scheme offered by the website was brought to light. Though the damage it caused through sale of drugs is still unclear, one heroin dealer has said that Silkroad was instrumental in ruining his life. However, as drug laws are changing very fast, particularly with respect to cannabis, the website deserves a fair deal. Further, various political establishments around the world are pushing for decriminalization of different drugs.

The Netherlands is notorious for its lax marijuana laws. In Vancouver in British Columbia, proliferation of cannabis stores, on and off, is very common. In fact, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, has even said that he would like to decriminalize, but regulate, cannabis. In many jurisdictions around the world, marijuana is legal.

Australia wanted to control enteogens and the Supreme Court overturned the decision of a New Mexico Court, preventing the federal government from banning the use of a sacramental tea by UDV (a Christian Spiritist religion) as it contained a Schedule-1 substance.

US politicians Rand Paul and Ron Paul have worked for the decriminalization of several drugs. Paul has even hinted at decriminalization of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Academic institutions have also classified certain drugs as having therapeutic benefits, for example, LSD.

In an article recently published by Reuters, David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology who has worked with Carhart-Harris, said that it is now possible to see as to what is going on in a person’s brain when it is in the psychedelic state and better understand as to why LSD profoundly impacts self-awareness. According to him, this would mean a lot as far as psychiatry is concerned.

The studies on beneficial effects of drugs would definitely be continued and, therefore, law enforcement agencies should be aware of the implications of once forbidden drugs. Actually, Silkroad was futuristic in the sense that it set the trend for drug commerce, especially marijuana, in the years to come. Most of the transactions on Silkroad involved marijuana.

In the US, legalization of marijuana is a bi-partisan problem. Sixty-three percent of the Republican Millennials and seventy-seven percent of the Democratic Millennials support legalization of cannabis. If marijuana is legalized, movements that promote decriminalization and legalization of Schedule-1 drugs might ensue.

Even pharmaceutical users who did not have insurance allegedly had accounts on Silkroad for purchasing medicines. This is because the site offered privacy, a key health care system attribute, for the procurement of medicines.

silk-road-logo (1)Further, Silkroad offered a rating system that was akin to what eBay or other e-commerce sites offered. This meant that the product sold on the Silkroad site were peer-reviewed. In addition, the rating system effectively monitored the buyers, sellers and products. The rating system also plays a role in keeping a check on false claims through advertisements.

However, many questions remain unanswered, especially the violent services allegedly offered by Silkroad. In addition to counterfeit money, fake IDs and passports, the Silkroad also purportedly offered hitmen services. It is alleged that Ross Ulbricht, who just completed one year in jail, ordered one hit on-site users.

However, the law enforcement agencies that tracked down Ross Ulbricht and Silkroad did not experience any difficulty in cracking the darknet marketplace. If regulated, a pseudonymous marketplace might prove to be a safe option for people who want to buy substances like marijuana that are on the fence as far as legality is concerned. Further, the law enforcement will be in the know of the deals taking place on these websites and will, therefore, be able to enforce better oversight.

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Uber Has Been Compared To Silk Road

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.

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Uber frequently finds itself in the news and many a time for the wrong reasons. The latest beating that it took was when a judge recently, during the course of the hearing (in an antitrust case being heard out at New York), compared Uber to Silkroad, the now defunct online black marketplace.

BN-GD837_skuber_P_20141224020938The allegations were made against Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber and other Uber drivers as regards their price-surge policy. A class-action suit was filed as a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act (Section 1). The acts were seen as a conspiracy in illegal price fixing by the accused.

How illegal the whole case may be, there are interesting facts that make up the case. Uber is known to organize meet-ups called “partner appreciation,”wherein the participants agree to reinforce their commitment to the agreement that may in fact be illegal or unlawful. All Uber drivers sign an agreement as part of the terms of employment, which purportedly gathers the implicit agreement of the signees to support price-fixing. As such, it was easy to get the drivers to agree to the cab company’s terms and policies. Further, there are other pending lawsuits and regulatory offences charged against the company and its business model that await legal hearing.

Uber, however, counter-argued that the drivers are being accused of conspiring with Travis to increase the fares and this just does not make any sense. At this instance, Uber’s argument was dismissed and a comparison was drawn with the now defunct darknetsite Silkroad. The judge compared the case with the Silkroad creator, Ross Ulbricht, currently serving a life sentence in prison.

Silkroad

ross-ulbrichtIn the Silkroad case, the government accused Ross Ulbricht as the ultimate leader of a single conspiracy that was responsible for all the vendors included in Silkroad who sold any type of narcotic substance. Judge Jed Rakoff compared this to Travis and the Uber drivers. The digitally decentralized Uber app was in many ways similar to Silkroad. The Uber app resembled a marketplace that was used by Travis to hatch a conspiracy along with all of the Uber drivers.

Another point of comparison that was drawn was that Silkroad was not just a website or platform that sold drugs. The vendors along with the Silkroad site owner had conspired to sell drugs using the Silkroad façade. Similarly, the price surge did not just happen on the call-a-cab platform, all the Uber drivers purportedly conspired together to create the price surge. To be fair, the judge concerned cited many other cases where they weren’t Tor-hidden websites like Silkroad and the group conspiracy angle was absent. However, things do not look rosy for the Uber head Travis Kalanick. The litigation is well on its way and a trial has been scheduled for the 1stof November this year.

With Judge Jed Rakoff of the U. S. District Court in Manhattan denied a bid to dismiss a class action suit against Travis Kalanick which alleged that Uber’s smartphone app was being used to coordinate high surge prices with hundreds of drivers all over the world, this case, opens a new line of allegations and legal attacks on many businesses that function on the sharing-economy models.

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Bitcoin, A Tool For Prosecuting Crimes

Bitcoin is an online digital currency that has for long been used by libertarians, computer scientists and even criminals as was the case in Silkroad. Just 3 yrs. ago, it seemed like anyone could use this cryptocurrency to make purchases without being tracked down by law enforcers. At that time people thought the digital currency was totally anonymous and FBI didn’t have a chance of finding out who was transacting it.

Bitcoin, A Tool For Prosecuting Crimes

However, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and other law enforcement bodies had a rather different opinion. They found ingenious ways of seizing Bitcoin and even making arrests where possible. Ross Ulbricht, a 31-yr.-old Texan responsible for creating Silkroad was captured by cops. His Silkroad marketplace was estimated to have facilitated sale of narcotics worth $1 billion. The Silkroad creator was given a life sentence in 2015. Others criminals from various places around the world were also incarcerated for similar charges.

Though most people who use Bitcoin currency are law-abiding citizens motivated solely by privacy concerns, the anonymity it provides can also be a powerful tool for facilitating crime as was witnessed in Silkroad. Academic researchers helped create the data encryption and software systems which make Bitcoin possible, they are now helping authorities nab criminals such as those behind Silkroad.

Sarah Meiklejohn, a computer scientist at University College London, says that these experts operate in a new field incorporating aspects of economics, forensics and computer science. There aren’t many of such experts and they all know each other. She mentions when Bitcoin first emerged, law enforcers were “panicking,” with most officers thinking the technology was dangerous and making it difficult for them to perform their task.

But as arrests and convictions were slowly being made, with one example being the Silkroad case, there emerged a steady shift towards viewing cryptocurrency more as a tool for nabbing cybercrimes. FBI Assistant General Counsel, Brett Nigh, earlier said in an interview that even though Bitcoin operated in a new strange world, investigators could still follow the money without much ado.

This was evident in how the Silkroad investigations were carried out and Bitcoins seized. Investigators had collected every piece of data from Silkroad – from images and text describing Silkroad products to Bitcoin transactions on the blockchain.

Unlike standard money issued by Federal Reserve banks, cryptocurrency like Bitcoin doesn’t have any physical form or gold backing hence making it rather untraceable. This is why Silkroad managed to survive for many years before it was finally shut down. Created back in 2008 by a mysterious man named Satoshi Nakamoto, it has been labeled an “intellectual artifact” and modern frontier of economics.

Bitcoins are amounts associated with certain addresses, unique strings of letters and numbers. For instance, “1Ez69SnzzmePmZX3WpEzMKTrcBF2gpNQ55” represents almost 30,000 BTC seized from the Silkroad site. They were estimated to be worth nearly $20 million at the time. The U.S government auctioned off these Silkroad Bitcoins after seizing it.

Those Bitcoins have since been split up and changed hands several times, but there’s a consistent recording showing their every movement. Both past and present ownership is documented in a “blockchain,” this being a popular public ledger available across the internet.

The task of keeping this cryptocurrency running smoothly and preventing cheating is left to a volunteer workforce, known as Bitcoin miners. They crunch the numbers required to verify the transactions, and also apply a math calculation formula known as “proof of work” to ensure individual miners are honest.

The calculations needed to pass a Bitcoin transaction are so thorough that only specialized computers are used. However, all this effort doesn’t go unrewarded as the act of authenticating a 10-minute transaction chain earns the volunteer miner 25 new Bitcoins. This is how the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is minted.

cryptocurrency Bitcoin

Just like any other currency, the digital currency Bitcoin’s real-world value comes as people who use it to trade for products and services as was the case when Silkroad was still in operation. If you’re not already a miner, the only other way of acquiring Bitcoins is from somebody who owns them. Several companies have come up that sell Bitcoin at a fee, and also provide ATM machines where users can convert them into cash.

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