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Douglas Capraro Douglas Capraro

FBI Shuts Down Silk Road 2.0

Federal agents have cracked down on the latest version of the illicit online drugs marketplace and arrested its 26-year-old alleged operator, who could face life in prison.

3 Substance

It’s the end of the road for Silk Road 2.0, a secretive online drugs marketplace created after Silk Road—the original “Amazon.com of drugs”—was shut down by the FBI in 2013. Today, the FBI announced they’ve put the kibosh on the second installment of the illicit drugs website and arrested its alleged owner, 26-year-old Blake Benthall.

Silk Road 2.0 emerged mere weeks after owner Ross Ulbritch, known by the online alias “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was arrested in October of last year. Benthall, 30, who is known online as “Defcon,” began operating Silk Road 2.0 in December one month after the site was launched by an un-identified co-conspirator. The charges against Benthall could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Originally, Ulbritch created Silk Road as a way to reduce the dangers associated with illegal drug deals. His aim was to transform a “notoriously violent industry into a safe online marketplace, removing the risk of face-to-face transactions” with what he called “humanity’s first truly free, anonymous, unbiased marketplace.” Transactions are made using Bitcoins and the website operates on the Deep Web—areas of the Internet that aren’t indexed by standard search engines. Other illicit services that were sold through the website included everything from hacking tools to hitmen.

As of September, prosecutors report that Silk Road 2.0 was generating at least $8 million a month. Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement: “Let’s be clear – this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison.” Benthall has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in New York in January. In the meantime, many await the arrival of Silk Road 3.0.