Key Player in Silk Road Successor Site Gets Eight Years in U.S. Prison

Key Player in Silk Road Successor Site Gets Eight Years in U.S. Prison
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This story originally appeared on Reuters

A Washington state man was sentenced on Friday to eight years in prison for his role in helping the management of the successor website to Silk Road, an online black market where illegal drugs and other goods were sold.

The alleged homepage to Silk Road 2.0, the successor website to Silk Road, is seen in a screenshot labelled Exhibit A from a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Image credit: Reuters | DOJ

Brian Farrell, who prosecutors say was a staff member for Silk Road 2.0, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones in Seattle after pleading guilty in March to a charge of conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Farrell, 27, was arrested in January 2015 as trial was under way in the case of Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the original Silk Road, which authorities say Ulbricht ran under the alias "Dread Pirate Roberts."

Ulbricht, 32, was sentenced in May 2015 to life in prison after a federal jury in Manhattan found him guilty on charges including distributing narcotics.

Silk Road 2.0 was launched late in 2013, weeks after authorities had shuttered the original Silk Road website and arrested Ulbricht. Like the original website, Silk Road 2.0 allowed users to anonymously buy and sell drugs, computer hacking tools and other illicit items, using the digital currency bitcoin, authorities said.

In November 2014, federal authorities in Manhattan announced they had shut down Silk Road 2.0 and arrested its alleged operator, Blake Benthall, who prosecutors say operated the website under the name "Defcon."

Prosecutors say Farrell was a key assistant to Benthall and was part of a small staff of online administrators and forum moderators, using the moniker "DoctorClu."

In court papers, prosecutors said that during a search of his residence in Bellevue, Washington, in January 2015, Farrell said he worked as Defcon's righthand man. A lawyer for Farrell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is U.S. v. Farrell, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, No. 15-mj-00016.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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