It's looking like the San Francisco leg of The Silk Road has not been fully shut down, according to federal prosecutors. They've just announced the arrest of one Blake Benthall in connection to the operation and ownership of the now shut down Silk Road 2.0 website. The Missionite was apprehended at his home on Florida Street yesterday, reports KQED.
Benthall, 26, allegedly known as “defcon,” is charged with narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and much, much more, as VentureBeat is reporting.
As we learned with this past spring's manhunt and arrest of Ryan Chamberlain, the feds have been actively whacking at the darknet moles that continue popping up in the wake of last October's splashy arrest of Princess Bride enthusiast the "Dread Priate" Ross Ulbricht in San Francisco. The alleged administrator/captain of the deep web online market was apprehended after leaving an extensive electronic paper trail. And yet, hidden "tor" services through which anonymous users can buy anything (read: drugs), mostly with bitcoin, have survived in multifarious forms and managed to go deeper and deeper hiding.
Chamberlain, who remains in jail awaiting trial on explosives-possession and possible lethal toxin charges, was arrested in May after an FBI sting connecting him to several scary purchases on Black Market Reloaded, another Silk Road replacement site.
Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued the following statement regarding Benthall's arrest:
As alleged, Blake Benthall attempted to resurrect Silk Road, a secret website that law enforcement seized last year, by running Silk Road 2.0, a nearly identical criminal enterprise. Let’s be clear: This Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison. Those looking to follow in the footsteps of alleged cybercriminals should understand that we will return as many times as necessary to shut down noxious online criminal bazaars. We don’t get tired.
The suspect's Facebook page is an open book, indicating that Benthall is a software engineer at SpaceX living in San Francisco and hailing from Houston Texas. Recently he’s said he’s “on the edge of launching a very libertarian finance startup,” but of course, being a libertarian is no crime at all.
Blake Benthall via Facebook
SFist has reached out to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, and we’ll update this post accordingly.Twitter