By Mike ChiangSource IGNOn February 18, 2018, the US Department of Justice announced that they would be taking a proactive approach in prosecuting suspected cybercriminals.
The DOJ has been investigating the activities of the alleged Silk Road 2.0 operation, which has been linked to the murder of a US military analyst.
The US government announced that it would prosecute the alleged operator of the Silk Road2.0 site, Ross Ulbricht, for violating a federal law known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
The government’s case was announced on April 15, 2018.
Ulbricht was indicted in February 2018 on charges of violating the CFAA by providing material support to a foreign power, conspiracy to violate the CFDA, and computer hacking.
Ulbrich has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The charges stem from the investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security into Silk Road, a website that offered a “darknet” for drug dealing, and the online marketplace Silk Road II.
The FBI has said that Ulbrithsts activity was associated with illegal online sales of drugs and illegal activities related to drug trafficking.
The indictment against Ulbriths alleged operators of Silk Road and Silk RoadII, including Ross Ulbrecht, alleges that Ulbrechts activity led to the murders of a U.S. military analyst in a U-turn, and that he also aided a Chinese criminal gang in their operations.
The indictment charges that UlBrecht and Ulbreches associates “facilitated the unlawful and malicious conduct that led to, and continues to threaten, the life and safety of a United States citizen.”
The alleged activities of Ulbrichets alleged associates are said to include:The alleged Silk-Road2.00 operator is charged with violating the Computer Crimes Act by providing materials support to another person who knowingly and intentionally:Provides material support or assistance in furtherance of a criminal offense; orFacilitates the unlawful or malicious conduct which led to or continues to threatening the life or safety of any person.
According to a press release from the Department, the indictment is related to an investigation into the alleged activities by Ross Ulbicht, aka “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
The FBI and DHS have been conducting their investigation since 2016, when the agency began conducting its investigation of SilkRoad 2.00.
In the press release, the FBI said that “it has learned that Dread Pirate Roberts, alias ‘Dread’ Roberts, and his associates were in the business of operating a darknet marketplace on the Tor network.
According to an indictment, Dread Pirate and his associate(s) facilitated the unlawful activities that led and continue to threaten the life of a member of the United States military.”
The indictment alleges that Dread was in the “business of providing support to other individuals in the United Kingdom who used the Tor hidden services network to conduct criminal activity.”
According to the indictment, the investigation began in January 2017 when the Department learned of an anonymous tip about Dread Pirate’s conduct and that the tipster had information that could provide information that led the FBI to Dread and his alleged associates.
The tipster was a British citizen, according to the press statement.
The Department of State said in a press statement on February 19, 2018 that “Dire Pirate Roberts and his associated entities, as well as Dread Pirate Bay, facilitated the illegal online sale of drugs, which resulted in the death of an American military analyst and the kidnapping of a British national.”
Dread, along with the Dread Pirate Busters and their alleged associates, are charged with the murder and hostage taking of US citizen Christopher Cantwell, an Army intelligence analyst who was kidnapped in January 2018 and died at the hands of the group.
Cantwell was kidnapped while traveling from Washington, D.C., to his home in London, England.
In a press conference on January 21, 2018 before his body was returned to his family, Cantwell was quoted as saying, “We need to be talking about the cybercrime and online crime that’s going on now.
It’s an epidemic.”
The Department’s press release says that the FBI “found evidence of Dread Pirate operations” including a “laptop computer with a laptop containing evidence of drug trafficking, as evidenced by a thumb drive with more than 250,000 files.”
The press release goes on to say that “despite this investigation, Dread and the other defendants remain free to conduct cybercrime activity in the U.K.”
The indictment also charges that Dread “faciliat[ed] the unlawful sale of more than 1,000 pounds ($1,946.90) of cannabis, a felony offense,” which is a felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The press statement adds that “although the charges were brought by the U of S [Department of Justice], the government will continue to pursue the prosecution of individuals and organizations that pose a significant threat to the security and safety.”