The aftermath of the Silk Road 2.0 marketplace bust in 2014 continues, with its second-in-command administrator sentenced to eight years in prison.
Also read: Dear Ross Ulbricht: The Next Ten Years
Brian Farrell was sentenced on June 3 at the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, to the exact term requested by prosecutors. He will also face four years supervised release after his prison sentence ends.
Farrell, who used the online handle “DoctorClu,” was arrested on January 2, 2015 after federal agents searched his home. Farrell was also a vendor on the site, and plead guilty to one count of distribution of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
He was 26 at the time of his arrest. Homeland Security agents had tracked packages, monitored Farrell’s activity and questioned his housemate for months prior to the bust.
One package containing 107 Xanax pills led to a search raid that uncovered drug paraphernalia, $35,000 USD in cash and silver bullion bars worth $3,900 USD.
The government seized and will keep the cash and bullion.
“You’re not going to find much of a bigger fish than me,” Farrell told authorities the day of his arrest.
Described as a “clearly employable” man who had “grown up in a supportive and loving household,” Farrell had held several well-paying jobs and had never previously been in trouble with the law.
Unlike events surrounding the trial of accused original Silk Road admin Ross Ulbricht, it has not been revealed whether any bitcoins were found or seized as part of the Silk Road 2.0 closure and charging of its admins.
What Was Silk Road 2.0?
Silk Road 2.0, not affiliated with the original Silk Road anonymous marketplace, appeared just one month after the former site was shut down in October 2013.
Authorities immediately began investigating the copycat site and arrested its operator Blake Bentall (a.k.a. “Defcon”) in November 2014 as part of its “Operation Onymous.”
Benthall was charged with conspiracy to traffic narcotics the same month. Little is known about what happened to him after that, although scattered and unofficial reports have claim he is no longer in custody.
Silk Road 2.0 sold drugs, weapons, fake ID cards, counterfeit merchandise, stolen ID and credit cards, and malicious software.
Message Not yet Clear
Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods wrote in the memo recommending the punishment:
“The Silk Road model presents a new threat to public safety and health. The website expands the serious drug market to all reaches of the country, and indeed the world. The website reaches those who are too apprehensive to conduct a deal on the street, or those, say in rural areas, who may not have a direct drug supplier. This new frontier is dangerous—and a clear message needs to be sent that those who peddle their poison on the internet—face serious penalties.”
It remains uncertain how clearly that message is getting through to its intended recipients, however. As of June 2016, DeepDotWeb lists no fewer than 50 marketplaces of varying specialities currently operating on the Tor hidden network, often referred to as the “dark web.”
Are punishments handed out to dark net market administrators fair? Will they do anything to prevent the existence of anonymous online marketplaces?
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Self.com.