UPDATE: Black Market Website “Silk Road” Reopens, New Arrests Follow
We recently reported that the “dark web” site Silk Road was closed down in an FBI operation. The website became infamous for peddling illegal items to eager customers with strict confidentiality. Well, just the other day the site reopened and the sale of items such as cannabis and guns resumed.
On Wednesday morning, Silk Road 2.0 came online, promising a new and slightly improved version of the anonymous black market for drugs and other contraband that the Department of Justice shut down just over a month before. Like the old Silk Road, which until its closure served as the Web’s most popular bazaar for anonymous narcotics sales, the new site uses the anonymity tool Tor and the cryptocurrency Bitcoin to protect the identity of its users. As of Wednesday morning, it already sported close to 500 drug listings, ranging from marijuana to ecstasy to cocaine.
This has become a classic game of cat and mouse between the website operators trying to stay in business and federal authorities trying to shut them down. While Silk Road, as of this writing, remains open, law enforcement has notched another win in their column with an undercover sting operating leading to the arrest of firearm peddler Matthew Crisafi.
After online negotiations, the undercover agent agreed to buy the gun for the equivalent of $3,300 in bitcoin, including shipping the arm to a foreign location, and the bitcoin was put in an escrow account. Crisafi allegedly notified the agent in May that he had shipped the package via U.S. Postal Service and provided the agent with the USPS tracking number for the package, according to the complaint. …
Crisafi has been charged on three counts, including the alleged “unlicensed sale of firearms; smuggling of firearms from the United States to an overseas destination; and conspiring to commit money laundering in connection with firearms trafficking activities.”
The battle between the ever-expanding darknet marketplace and those trying to prevent the widespread distribution of illegal products is only beginning. These website operators know that it is nearly impossible for authorities to keep track of everything that happens online and law enforcement is resigned to the fact that this will be no easy task. Watch this space for the latest in this ongoing digital saga.