DHS Special Agent Went Undercover To Infiltrate The Silk Road

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Jared Der-Yeghiayan first met with alleged Silk Road creator, Ross Ulbricht, at 3:16 pm on October 1, 2013. This was moments after Ross was arrested for his involvement in the notorious online drugs marketplace. But according to prosecutors, October 1 was not the first time they met; they were communicating long before that.


Homeland Security InvestigationsHomeland Security Investigations (HSI) begun investigating the illegal marketplace in 2012, and by July 2013, Jared Der-Yeghiayan took over as “Cirrus”, Silk Road moderator. Jared, a special agent with HSI based out of Chicago, on 14th of January, 2015, testified concerning his role in a sting that led to Ross Ulbricht’s arrest. The investigation department was then investigating Ross as a possible match for the chief operator of Silk Road, the Dread Pirate Roberts, which was based on information received from Gary Alford, who is working as a special agent with the IRS.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Gary’s information has triggered yet another investigation that involved Thomas Kiernan, a computer scientist working with FBI (expected to testify soon), as well as Christopher Tarbell, known for his role in hacker Sabu’s arrest. HSI and FBI merger was crafted with main intent of operating a sting to capture Dread Pirate Roberts including “Smoking Gun”, which was an open laptop that logged into the admin page of Silk Road.

Mark KarpelesDer-Yeghiayan used codename “Cirrus” for almost 2 months and managed to access the encrypted Silk Road staff chat room, which was hosted by a Tor hidden service. This chat room gave Der-Yeghiayan the leeway to see when Dead Pirate Roberts was available online. It is from here that FBI secured a warrant to arrest Ulbricht in September 2013.

On September 30, Der-Yeghiayan arrived in San Francisco and on October 1, at around 12.00 pm, a team of around six law enforcement agents including Der-Yeghiayan, Kiernan, and Tarbell met at Café Bello. This café was just a few blocks from Ulbricht’s house and Jared had his laptop powered on, and connected to a mobile hotspot, so that he could monitor if DPR was available in that encrypted chat room.

Fortunately, Dread Pirate Roberts was logged in and Ross was at home. It took the team a few hours to disperse and position themselves across few blocks that included Ulbricht’s house, Café Bello, and San Francisco Public Library’s, Glen Park branch. Jared’s laptop was open and running the entire period since it was used to monitor Dread Pirate Roberts at the time, which was critical for the success of the sting. At about 2:45 pm, Dread Pirate Roberts logged out, showing that he was about to switch location. As Ulbricht crossed the street and went in Café Bello, he saw that it was crowded and walked out heading towards the library next door.

Kiernan followed Ulbricht inside while Jared remained outside with his laptop. Tarbell then rejoined Jared and directed the rest of the team to stay put as Jared, alias “Cirrus”, chatted with Dead Pirate Roberts asking him to check a customer support issue that required him to log on to the admin panel. Once he was in, Tarbell gave a green light to the agents who subdued Ross Ulbricht in a matter of seconds and seized his laptop. After his arrest, alleged Dread Pirate Roberts met Cirrus face-to-face on his way down stairs, and this took place at 3:16 pm.