Category Archives: Geoffrey S. Berman

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Silk Road Fallout Continues as Libertas Takes Prison Plea Deal for up to 20 Years

The fallout from the Silk Road, perhaps the most infamous darknet market in history, continues. Gary Davis, aka Libertas, who was a site administrator and moderator, has pleaded guilty to distributing massive amounts of narcotics. Sentencing is scheduled for 17 January 2019, and Libertas faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

US Attorney Geoffrey S Berman said: “Silk Road was a secret online marketplace for illegal drugs, hacking services, and a whole host of other criminal activity. As he admitted today, Gary Davis served as an administrator who helped run the Silk Road marketplace. Davis’s arrest, extradition from Ireland, and conviction should send a clear message: the purported anonymity of the dark web is not a protective shield from prosecution.”

Libertas’ duties included moderating forum posts, arbitrating trade disputes, and enforcing marketplace rules. Apparently, he was paid a weekly salary in excess of USD 1,000.

Silk Road operated from 2011-2013 and transacted BTC 9.52 million. Although darknet activity comprises only a minuscule fraction of Bitcoin volume in 2018, back when Silk Road rose to prominence, it has been speculated that a large amount of Bitcoin’s price rise and adoption was driven by illicit trading there. Indeed, the collapse of Bitcoin’s price in late 2013 coincided with the shutdown of Silk Road.

Roughly BTC 174,000 were seized during a sting operation and these were eventually auctioned off. The owner of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht aka Dread Pirate Roberts, is serving a life sentence in prison after a lengthy and controversial court battle, with his only hope being a presidential pardon.

Due to the anonymous nature of Silk Road, which used Tor and Bitcoin to shield operator’s and user’s identities, it took years to find Libertas and extradite him to the United States. It is believed by enforcement that there were only three team members working for Ulbricht. The other team members have not been sentenced yet.

 

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