Federal agents have arrested a Bellevue man accused of assisting in the management of the so-called “Silk Road 2.0” website, an illicit Internet market for drugs and other black-market goods.
Prosecutors have charged 26-year-old Brian Richard Farrell — who they say went by the name “DoctorClu” — with conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. He will appear Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
The government says Silk Road 2.0 was a hidden website that allowed members to buy and sell illegal drugs and other contraband anonymously and, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release, “beyond the reach of law enforcement.”
According to the complaint, Silk Road 2.0 went online in November 2013 after federal agents seized and shut down the first Silk Road website and arrested its alleged owner and operator, Ross William Ulbricht, aka “Dread Pirate Roberts.” Ulbricht is currently on trial in New York.
In November 2014, Blake Benthall, aka “Defcon,” the operator of the Silk Road 2.0 site, was arrested in San Francisco. The complaint filed Tuesday charges Farrell with being a key assistant to Benthall in running the site.
“The arrest of Mr. Farrell is proof that federal law enforcement continues its efforts to root out those who subvert the Internet to set up black markets for illegal goods,” Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes said in a statement.
The government alleges Silk Road 2.0 was one of the most “extensive, sophisticated, and widely used criminal marketplaces on the Internet.”
Silk Road 2.0 operated on the “Tor” network, which uses a network of computers around the world to conceal the actual computer address and identity of the user, according to prosecutors. When it was closed down, federal agents allege it had more than 150,000 active users and was generating at least $8 million a month in sales that sometimes involved kilo-sized quantities of drugs, according to the charges.
Farrell, according to court documents, was one of a small staff of online administrators who helped Benthall with the day-to-day operation of the website.