Silk Road’s reincarnation, Silk Road 2.0, has faced the same fate as its predecessor. It has been seized by the FBI and shut down. Its alleged operator, Blake Benthall (a.k.a. “Defcon”) has been arrested in San Francisco. In Dublin, another two men were also reportedly arrested due to their affiliation with the site.
The dark net site now displays a notification that it has been seized as part of a joint law enforcement operation by Europol, Eurojust, the FBI, US Department of Justice and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Nearly one year ago to the day, Silk Road was relaunched as “Silk Road 2.0”. It had promised improved security and had copies of its encrypted code distributed in case there was another shutdown.
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The FBI said that a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent infiltrated restricted areas of the site and managed to interact with “Defcon”. The assertion gives more ammunition to prosecutors, which were challenged on the legality of their evidence gathering in the ongoing case against Silk Road 1.0 operator Ross William Ulbricht.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said 2.0 was nearly identical to its predecessor and emphasized that authorities will not let up in their enforcement activities:
“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 Dublin arrests were reportedly part of a broader global crackdown on the dark net, codenamed “Onymous”. Several hundred domains have been seized and at least 17 have been arrested.