The resurrection of the popular Silk Road drug website known as “Silk Road 2.0″ has been online for less than two months. But law enforcement already seems to be closing its net.
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On Friday morning an FBI source told me that agents have now made multiple arrests related to the website, but declined to name suspects. That confirmation follows an earlier report from TechCrunch that two alleged moderators of the Silk Road 2.0′s user forums have been arrested, one who goes by the name “Libertas” in Ireland and another known as “Inigo” in Virginia. In addition to their alleged involvement in Silk Road 2.0, both figures had been well-known moderators of the original Silk Road site’s forums before its takedown by law enforcement in October.
Rumors of the arrests had been swirling on Reddit and user forums for the Silk Road 2.0 and competing “dark web” drug site Tor Market. A post on Reddit seemingly written by the girlfriend of Inigo said that police had arrested Inigo; She later posted a copy of the search warrant, which included his real name, Andrew Michael Jones. “They told me they were making arrests all around the world at the same time,” she wrote. “I’m hoping [Jones] was well liked and respected because even though I didn’t know he was doing this, I can guarantee he was doing it out of his passion for Libertarianism and for the idea of a free marketplace.”
The blog DeepDotWeb later posted a picture of a business card Jones’ girlfriend had apparently been given by Christopher Tarbell, the same FBI agent who led the investigation of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged owner of the original Silk Road. And a follow-up post on the Tor Market user forum seemed to come from Jones himself:
Guys I was arrested yesterday and out on bond now. But something is fucked! I know I’m risking more warning you guys and my attorney doesn’t even want me on the internet but you guys need to know this. When I was in the interview room they showed me all sorts of shit that they should not know or have access to including conversations I’ve had with buyers and even [the Silk Road 2.0 administrator known as the Dread Pirate Roberts]. I don’t fucking understand.. and when I was in there I was at a loss for words. Something is definitely wrong and they have the ability to see things on here only mods or admins should like [bitcoin] transfers and a dispute I had.
Despite those arrests, Silk Road 2.0′s administrator known as the Dread Pirate Roberts–a handle inherited from the original Silk Road’s creator–told Silk Road users that the arrests of the forum moderators wouldn’t directly affect the Silk Road 2.0 marketplace, which is hosted on a separate website. “Silk Road has not been compromised even if the allegations are true,” Roberts wrote. “Neither had access to sensitive material. I will make an announcement later to address the concerns this has raised.”
Silk Road 2.0 launched in early November, promising a better and more secure version of the Silk Road market the FBI had taken down in early October. Dealers and users quickly migrated to the site, which now hosts thousands of drug product listings.
Earlier this month the Dread Pirate Roberts announced arrangements for the Silk Road 2.0 intended to make it easier to recreate the site in the event of another raid by law enforcement. He claimed to have backed up portions of the site’s code to 500 locations in 17 countries, and to have a new leader lined up for the site in the event of his arrest. “A successor has already been chosen,” he told me. “If Silk Road was taken down we could have it up and running again within 15 minutes…not a cent in bitcoin would be lost.”
Stay tuned for more news on the Silk Road 2.0 crackdown shortly.
With reporting contributed by Runa Sandvik.
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