Federal authorities have arrested a San Francisco man for creating a website dubbed “Silk Road 2.0.”
Blake Benthall, 26, was arrested Monday and charged with conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking, conspiring to commit computer hacking, conspiring to traffic in fraudulent identification documents, and money laundering conspiracy. He faces a maximum potential sentence of 50 years in prison and is due to present in a San Francisco federal court Tuesday.
Authorities say Benthall created a Silk Road copycat five weeks after the government shuttered the original site for creating an online black market that reportedly brought in $30 million to $45 million in sales of illegal drugs.
“Let’s be clear–this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “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.”
Bethall allegedly operated Silk Road 2.0 under the alias Dread Pirate Roberts, the moniker Ross Ulbricht used with the original Silk Road. The FBI said he switched over to the name Defcon in December and controlled all aspects of computer infrastructure, code, terms of service, and profits generated from his website.