Silk Road Admin Pleads Guilty
8.10.2018 securityweek Crime
An Irish man pled guilty in a United States court to his role in the administration of Silk Road, a black-market website.
The man, Gary Davis, 30, of Wicklow, Ireland, who went by the online handle of “Libertas,” was a member of the small administrative staff behind the Silk Road website. On Friday, he pled guilty to conspiring to distribute massive quantities of narcotics, a charge arising out of his admin role.
Silk Road, an online marketplace that operated between 2011 and 2013, was used by “thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers,” the Department of Justice said in an announcement.
Owned by Ross William Ulbricht, also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” “DPR,” and “Silk Road,” the marketplace was also used to launder hundreds of millions of dollars derived from the unlawful transactions it hosted. Ulbricht was sentenced in 2015.
Silk Road, which was shut down in October 2013, was ran by a small support staff that included both site administrators and forum moderators, documents presented in court claim.
The admins would monitor user activity, respond to customer service inquiries, and resolve issues between buyers and vendors. The forum moderators monitored user activity on discussion forums, provided guidance on how to conduct business on Silk Road, and reported significant problems to admins.
The court documents allege that Davis served as a forum moderator for Silk Road between May 2013 and June 2013 and that he then served as a site admin up to October 2, 2013.
His responsibilities included responding to customer support requests, resolving disputes that arose between drug dealers and buyers on the site, and enforcing the rules for doing business on Silk Road, which had been set by Ulbricht. Davis was reportedly paid a weekly salary for his work.
Davis was extradited to the United States four years after his arrest, prosecutors announced in July. On Friday, he pled guilty before United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman to one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
Davis faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. His sentencing has been scheduled for January 17, 2019.
“As he admitted today, Gary Davis served as an administrator who helped run the Silk Road marketplace. Davis’s arrest, extradition from Ireland, and conviction should send a clear message: the purported anonymity of the dark web is not a protective shield from prosecution,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said.