Silk Road 2.0 Operator Arrested, Faces 10 Years Behind Bars

By McCarton Ackerman 11/07/14

Blake Benthall was generating $8 million per month in revenues before federal authorities arrested him.

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The man behind black market drug website, Silk Road, is currently behind bars, but authorities have now arrested the operator of Silk Road 2.0 as well.

Blake Benthall, 26, is now facing charges of conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking, conspiring to commit computer hacking, conspiring to traffic in fraudulent identification documents, and money laundering conspiracy.

Benthall was reportedly second-in-command for Silk Road 2.0 until December 2013, but began running the website shortly thereafter when its founder ceased his operations when the original Silk Road operators were arrested. The site allowed users to both sell and buy drugs using an online currency called Bitcoins. As of last September, Silk Road 2.0 was generating $8 million per month in revenue through its roughly 150,000 active users.

“I intend to prove to you that leading this movement forward is my top priority in life, and that I will pour any time and energy necessarily into ensuring its success,” Benthall allegedly wrote in an online forum. “While other admins may run away when calamities strike—I’m ready to fight right here alongside you.” Silk Road 2.0 has since been shut down. Benthall was taken into custody in San Francisco on Wednesday, but is being charged in the Southern District of New York.

The founder of the original Silk Road, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested last October by federal authorities. He is currently being charged with soliciting murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, and facilitating computer hacking. The most prolific dealer on the original Silk Road website, 23-year-old Cornelis Jan Slomp, now faces 15 years behind bars. It was originally recommended that he serve 40 years, but prosecutors significantly lowered that recommendation due to his cooperation with authorities.

However, authorities still have even bigger names to tackle in the Dark Web. The Digital Citizens Alliance reported last August that a black market website called Agora had more products for sale than both Silk Road 2.0 and the original Silk Road at its peak.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.