Today, the FBI unsealed the indictments of three men with alleged ties to Silk Road.
Here’s what we know about 24-year-old alleged site administrator Andrew Michael Jones, aka “Inigo”:
1. Inigo’s ‘Girlfriend’ Posted News of His Arrest on Reddit
Late last night, a post appeared on Reddit written by a woman who claimed she’d been visited by the FBI, and told that her boyfriend had been arrested for involvement in Silk Road:
Later, she posted a copy of a search warrant, briefly leaving her boyfriend’s real name “Andrew Michael Jones” visible:
The Daily Dot Web also published a business card, supposedly given to Jones’ girlfriend by FBI agent Christopher Tarbell, the same agent responsible for taking down Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht back in October.
2. Jones Has Been Indicted for Narcotics Trafficking, Computer Hacking & Money Laundering
An indictment released today from the Southern District Court of New York details the charges against Jones, along with two others: alleged administrator Gary Davis aka “Libertas,” and alleged moderator Peter Phillip Nash aka “Samesamebutdiffernt,” “Batman73,” “Symmetry,” “Anonymousasshit.”
The indictment alleges that, as an administrator, Jones was responsible for “monitoring user activity on Silk Road for problems, responding to customer service inquiries, and resolving disputes between buyers and vendors.” Which sounds like pretty conscientious web-site administration. Unfortunately, providing quality customer service for a website devoted to selling narcotics across the dark web is a felony.
The indictment further alleges that Jones was involved in computer hacking for the sake of securing Silk Road commercial advantage. It also charges Jones with money laundering, for accepting currency he knew had been gained through illegal activities.
While most of today’s headlines have described the moderators as employees of Silk Road 2.0, the charges listed in the indictment date from January 2011 to October 2nd, 2013, the period of time that the original Silk Road was operational.
The indictment can be read here:
3. Silk Road 1.0 Was Hugely Profitable
On October 2, 2013, the FBI seized Silk Road and arrested its alleged founder, Ross William Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts. Both DPR and “Inigo” are references to Rob Reiner’s classic comedy “The Princess Bride.”
Silk Road was operational between January 2011 and the day of the FBI’s seizure, and during that time, it oversaw the transfer of around $1.2 billion and generated around $80 million in commission. Despite those considerable profit margins, the indictment reports that employees like ‘Inigo’ were taking home a solid, but unsexy $50, 000 to $75, 000 a year.
4. Silk Road 2.0’s Chief Administrator Claims the Marketplace Remains Secure
Forbes reports that Silk Road 2.0’s administrator, the Dread Pirate Roberts (a handle inherited from original Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht), wrote to the site’s users that the new arrests would not threaten the security of the Silk Road 2.0 marketplace:
“Silk Road has not been compromised even if the allegations are true. Neither had access to sensitive material. I will make an announcement later to address the concerns this has raised.”
Early in December, the Dread Pirate Roberts announced that arrangements had been made allowing for Silk Road 2 to be easily recreated in the event of another bust, telling Forbes Andy Greenberg: “A successor has already been chosen. If Silk Road was taken down we could have it up and running again within 15 minutes…not a cent in bitcoin would be lost.”
5. Silk Road 2.0 Fears ‘Synchronized World Arrests’
The arrests have provoked understandable alarm in the Silk Road community. In her Reddit post, Jones’ girlfriend claimed that the FBI said they were making “arrests all around the world at the same time.” An anonymous poster on competing black market site “Tormarket,” shared a post he’d captured on the silkroad vendor’s roundtable, ostensibly from an arrested administrator out on bond. That poster suggests that the FBI had obtained conversations he’d had with buyers and DPR (Dread Pirate Roberts):
A police source told Tech Crunch that EU law enforcement has infiltrated Silk Road 2, saying:
“Silk Road were very foolish in their operations. A number of EU LE units infiltrated their market admin. Plenty of other information was acquired.”