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Silk Road 2.0 seizure notice
The seizure notice on the Silk Road 2.0 homepage

FBI arrests alleged Silk Road 2.0 founder Blake Benthall

Bye bye to yet another darknet drugs marketplace

Here we go again. After arresting alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht last year, the FBI have now nabbed the founder of Silk Road 2.0, the darknet marketplace that sprung up to take the place of Ulbricht's original site. The guy in question is a 26-year-old American called Blake Benthall, who allegedly goes by the name "Defcon" online. 

Benthall stands accused of running the black market that "allowed thousands of drug dealers to illegally buy and sell drugs anonymously over the Internet". He is being charged on multiple counts, including money laundering, computer hacking, trafficking in fraudulent IDs and conspiring to commit narcotics trafficking. The final charge alone carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. 

According to a statement released by the FBI, Silk Road 2.0 has been used by "used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to buyers throughout the world, as well as to launder millions of dollars generated by these unlawful transactions". It estimated that the marketplace generated sales of at least approximately $8 million per month and had 150,000 active users. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: "As alleged, Blake Benthall attempted to resurrect Silk Road, a secret website that law enforcement seized last year, by running Silk Road 2.0, a nearly identical criminal enterprise. Let’s be clear—this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison."

"Those looking to follow in the footsteps of alleged cybercriminals should understand that we will return as many times as necessary to shut down noxious online criminal bazaars. We don’t get tired." 

The Silk Road 2.0 homepage has now been replaced with a police notice informing visitors that the site has been seized. The site's demise comes exactly a year after it was launched. Benthall was arrested by FBI officers in San Francisco, which by sheer coincidence, is also where they found Ulbricht. 

Benthall's arrest is part of Operation Onymous, a huge joint mission between the FBI and Interpol to target the online drug trade. Other darknet marketplaces including Pandora and Agora have also gone offline at the same time today.

Police also claim that one of Silk Road 2.0's biggest dealers has been apprehended in Ireland. The Irish Examiner reports that ecstasy, LSD and other drugs worth up to €180,000 were seized in a raid. Two men in their thirties were arrested.