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Silk Road 2.0 Founder Behind Bars

The founder of dark web marketplace Silk Road 2.0 has been jailed for five years and four months at Liverpool Crown Court.

Thomas White, a 24-year-old former accounting student at John Moores University, received his sentence for drug trafficking, money laundering and for possessing a collection of 464 indecent images of children rated category A (the most severe). 

White had been an administrator for the original Silk Road dark web marketplace, launched in February 2011 and shut down by the FBI in October 2013. He set up Silk Road 2.0 and ran it from November 2013 to March 2014, using the moniker Dread Pirate Roberts, copying the nickname used by the original Silk Road’s founder Ross Ulbricht. In March 2014, he took a back seat and handed over day-to-day operations to US subordinate Blake Benthall (aka Defcon).

He told reporters that law enforcement agencies couldn’t take down Silk Road 2.0 as easily as its predecessor. “There is only one person in the world that knows who my second in command ‘Defcon’ is — me,” he told them. “Just think how much the FBI will be squirming in their seats and red-faced again if they could arrest the Dread Pirate Roberts and the Road continues to function in their face.”

The National Crime Agency identified White by tracking parcels of drugs he had ordered via the original Silk Road site. The FBI shut down Silk Road 2.0 site in November 2014, and police arrested both White and Benthall at roughly the same time on either side of the Atlantic. The shutdown was part of Operation Onymous, an inter-agency effort to shut down dozens of web domains. 

Silk Road 2.0 processed almost $100m in illegal sales, police believe, with White taking up to a 5% cut.

Announcing his sentence, the National Crime Agency said it also found hacked data from the FBI, NASA, the original incarnation of Canadian adultery site Ashley Madison and customer details from UK broadband provider TalkTalk. They do not believe that he hacked the data himself, though.

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