This week, an operation carried out by Interpol and the FBI shut down a number of popular online drug marketplaces which were spread out throughout the world. One of those arrested in the sweep was 26-year-old Blake Benthall, a former SpaceX employee from San Francisco.
According to prosecutors, Benthall admitted to running the Silk Road 2.0 marketplace just moments after his arrest.
Prosecutors also allege that Benthall had an unencrypted computer that had an extensive list of of customer data that agents plan to use in further investigations. However, after the initial arrest of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder of the original Silk Road there were many lies told by prosecutors, so this information is yet to be verified.
Immediately after news of the shut down hit the internet, a new Silk Road 3.0 was already up and running. A message was posted to the front of the new Silk Road website that was signed by “Dread Pirate Roberts” the alias that was used by the operators of both former Silk Road sites.
“Welcome to Silk Road Reloaded, we are an anonymous, professional and peaceful marketplace selling all sorts of goods and services. There is no judgment, censorship or repercussion here. We are truly free.”
This constant reinvention of the Silk Road brand, and the myriad of spin-off marketplaces is reminiscent of the battle that took place between online file sharing websites and the global record and film industries. Whenever the government took down a file sharing site, ten more would spring up in its place, making it very difficult for authorities to keep up with the overgrowing connectivity that the internet provides.