Visitors to the successor of online drug marketplace Silk Road were greeted by the logos of an international concordance of law enforcement agencies.
Arrested was Blake Benthall, a 26 year old San Francisco engineer whose Twitter bio reads "rocket scientist, bitcoin dreamer." The move is a part of a coordinated effort to crack down on the dark net, with similar sites Hydra and Cloud9 also seized. Benthall, a former employee of SpaceX, became the site's proprietor after the disappearance of the figure then operating under the Dread Pirate Roberts pseudonym first used by Ross Ulbricht. The operation was conducted with the use of undercover agents, as the government has seemingly yet to figure out how to circumvent the anonymizing Tor software or untraceable bitcoin with which these sites function.
The criminal complaint against Benthall outlines how the Silk Road 2′s staff was infiltrated by at least one undercover law enforcement agent even before the site went online in November of last year. In May of this year, the FBI somehow pinpointed the foreign server that ran the Silk Road 2 despite its use of the anonymity software Tor to protect its location, and obtained records from the server's hosting provider identifying Benthall.
The complaint also traces Benthall's proceeds from his alleged management of the Silk Road 2′s bustling sales. Law enforcement officials found that he used a bitcoin exchange to cash out $273,626 between Silk Road 2′s creation in November of last year and October of this year. About $70,000 of that money went towards a down payment on a $127,000 Tesla Model S. Benthall is also accused of holding the pursestrings for the Silk Road 2′s employees: An undercover Homeland Security agent was paid $32,189 worth of bitcoin for work the agent did for the site.