Drug Marketplace Silk Road 2.0 Taken Offline, Alleged Operator Arrested

Federal authorities have seized the “deep web” drug marketplace Silk Road 2.0 and arrested its alleged operator, a 26-year-old San Francisco man, Business Insider is reporting.

Silk Road 2.0 was a clone of the original Silk Road website, which was itself a website hosted on what’s known as the “dark web” where users could anonymously buy and sell all manner of illegal drugs, and other contraband, using the crypto-currency Bitcoin. Silk Road 2.0 came online just a few weeks after the original Silk Road was seized, and had been operational for over a year.

The original Silk road was shut down in October, 2013, according to this Inquisitr report, and its alleged founder, Ross Ulbricht, is currently facing a host of drug-related charges. Additionally, according to Wired, he was charged for his part in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme. Ulbricht has denied all of the charges, and no trial date has been set, as of this post.

The “dark web,” according to New York Magazine, is a group of websites and servers accessible only via The Onion Network, which is accessed by a service that obscures users’ I.P. addresses and encrypts traffic to the websites. The dark web is host to several unsavory websites; in addition to drug-trafficking sites, the dark web also hosts sites that allow for the sale of weapons, stolen I.D. information, copyrighted files, and even child pornography, according to How Stuff Works.

FBI agents also arrested 26-year-old Blake Benthall of San Francisco, according to NBC News, who also went by the alias “Defcon.” He is facing charges of conspiring to commit drug trafficking, conspiring to commit money laundering, and host of similar charges.

The Silk Road 2.0 takedown was part of a larger FBI operation, in cooperation with several European law enforcement agencies, to disrupt drug trafficking on the dark web. As of this post, several other drug-trafficking websites on the dark web, including Agora, Pandora, and a handful of others, are all currently offline, and more arrests and seizures are likely to happen in the next 24 hours.

According to the Daily Mail, Silk Road 2.0 had 150,000 users and made as much as $8 million per month.

[Image courtesy of: Ars Technica]