Alleged Silk Road 2.0 kingpin Blake Benthall heads for New York court

The man accused of operating a major online drug marketplace will not have his bail hearing in San Francisco after all.

Blake Benthall, the San Francisco man accused of operating a Dark Net marketplace for illegal drugs called Silk Road 2.0, was transported on Friday to New York, where he is expected to face narcotics trafficking, hacking, and money laundering charges.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ordered on Thursday that Benthall be transported to the Southern District of New York and that bail be determined on his arrival. Corley had initially been expected to determine whether or not Benthall would be awarded bail on Friday morning.

U.S. Marshals deputy Joe Palmer confirmed to the Daily Dot that Benthall is in the transfer process. He would not say whether he is in transit or has already arrived in New York.

Benthall, 26, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Wednesday. Prosecutors claim he had operated Silk Road 2.0 under the pseudonym “Defcon” since late 2013, when the site sprang up to take the place of the original Silk Road. That site was shuttered by the FBI in October 2013 and its alleged operator, Ross Ulbricht, is awaiting trial in New York.

Hours after the announcement of Benthall’s arrest, an existing Dark Net site rebranded itself as Silk Road 3 Reloaded. The Daily Dot spoke to an individual who claimed to be behind the site, which was formerly called Diabolus Market. The individual claimed to be collaborating with a “senior figure” from Silk Road 2.0. “He/she is using my code and servers but is operating SR3.0 themselves,” the person, whose name is unknown, said.

Prosecutors in the Benthall case cautioned online drug marketplace operators against launching another Silk Road. “Let’s be clear—this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison,” US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement Thursday. “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.”

Photo via Blake Benthall/Instagram | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

Kate Conger

Kate Conger

Kate Conger is a politics and cybersecurity journalist who currently writes for Gizmodo. Her work has previously appeared in BuzzFeed, Digital Trends, Real Clear Politics, San Francisco Examiner, and elsewhere. Together with Dell Cameron, she won the Society of Professional Journalists' award for Best Scoop in 2017 for a report on the leak of data about 200 million American voters.