Thursday, November 6, 2014

Californian accused of starting 'Silk Road 2.0' a flight risk

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A California man confessed to operating a spinoff version of the shuttered Silk Road website, which enabled more than 100,000 people to buy and sell illegal drugs over the Internet, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Blake Benthall, 26 years old and wearing a hooded sweatshirt with "Internet Better" on the back, appeared in federal court in San Francisco after his Wednesday arrest. He faced several charges, including conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking, which carries a potential life sentence and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Haun told U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley that Benthall was a flight risk, was a danger to the community and should be held without bail after he waived his rights and "did admit to everything," including running the copycat website.

Calling Benthall a "severe flight risk" who had acquired fake identify documents, Haun said investigators found $100,000 in cash in his apartment after he earned $400,000 in monthly commissions on $8 million monthly revenue since December.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement that Benthall created "Silk Road 2.0," a "nearly identical criminal enterprise" website, about five weeks after the government shut down the original version in October 2013. Authorities said the original site generated more than $1 billion in illicit business since 2011.

"Let's be clear — this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison," he said. "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."
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