Immediately after the Silk Road was taken down in 2013, a marketplace known as the Silk Road 2 launched. The new darknet market was run by a person who called himself the Dread Pirate Roberts 2 and he was arrested a few months later in November 2014. However, privacy advocate Thomas White, otherwise known as DPR2, was released on bail for the next five years and has only now been sentenced to 64 months in jail.
Silk Road 2 Founder Sentenced
The founder of the notorious Silk Road 2 marketplace has been sentenced to prison this week for operating the illegal website for over a year. Thomas White was known as DPR2 when he ran the underground marketplace Silk Road 2 back in 2014. SR2 was not affiliated with the original Silk Road (SR) but popped up on the invisible web roughly 30 days after SR was seized in October 2013. Similarly to the original, SR2 sold narcotics, fake ID cards, counterfeit merchandise, credit cards, and software. Law enforcement said that SR2 made roughly $8 million every month after it launched for a year.
Law enforcement wasted no time investigating the newly created SR2 and arrested both White (a.k.a. ‘St Exo’ or ‘DPR2’) and Blake Benthall (a.k.a. ‘Defcon’) a year later in November 2014. However, White has been out on bail since his arrest and has remained in the public eye over the last five years. Benthall was charged with conspiracy to traffic narcotics and was released and has yet to be sentenced by any courts.
According to multiple SR2 vendors and law enforcement officials, the website grew fast because of people’s admiration for the original SR and its leader the Dread Pirate Roberts. An investigator from the National Crime Agency (NCA), Paul Chowles, told the media this week that White told his band of companions that he would stop using his St Exo monicker and start calling himself DPR2. “DPR2, aka Thomas White, was the boss. He was the controlling mind in all of this, and he was the one driving it forward,” Chowles explained in a recent interview.
“Dread Pirate Roberts is now immortal and if you devote yourself to that ideal, and our enemies cannot stop it, then the idea becomes something else entirely,” DPR2 stated in 2014. The post continued:
They may have sunk one ship, but now they have awoken the kraken.
Ulbricht Family Underscores the Contrast Between White’s Punishment and the Much Harsher Sentencing Ross Received
Reports detail that after White was released on bail, he also used the name ‘The Cthulhu’ online and commented regularly on tech articles, forums, and became known as a privacy expert. He also ran a few websites that focused on data breaches and ran numerous Tor nodes as well. Motherboard attempted to talk with White this week but he declined and also deleted his Cthulhu profile. White pleaded guilty for his involvement with the SR2 website which involved charges of money laundering and MDMA distribution. According to the courts, in Germany alone White earned 1% commission off $143,000 worth of class A drug sales stemming from the region. The NCA also revealed that White owned around 50 BTC ($255,000) at the time of his arrest in 2014.
The case was a combined effort between U.S. law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, the Justice Department, and Homeland Security. But the SR2 server was identified by the government-funded Carnegie Mellon University’s Scientific Engineering Institute, which unmasked many Tor services that year. After the unmasking, the FBI and other three-letter agencies gained access to a large cache of IP addresses stemming from SR2 participants and other darknet markets. From here, law enforcement discovered White’s role as DPR2 and that Blake Benthall coded the website.
DPR2 did an exclusive interview with Motherboard reporter Jason Cox back when the site was raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. DPR2 recounted the day he decided to launch SR2 and how he was extremely anxious when he published the site on the deep web. “I had the URL ready to launch,” DPR2 explained to Cox. “I think I must have sat there for five minutes staring at the screen. Once you hit that enter button, you’ve just launched something that you know there is going to be an absolutely fucking huge manhunt after you.”
The Thomas White (DPR2) sentencing also affected the lives of Ross Ulbricht’s family members when they heard the news. With White being sentenced to five years and another SR2 admin Brian Farrell sentenced to eight, the Ulbricht family believes it is unfair that Ross is serving a double life sentence for his role in the original Silk Road. “Please sign Ross’s petition for clemency,” explained Freeross.org on Twitter this week. “This is his sixth year in prison, he deserves a second chance.” The tweet also displayed a picture of Ross sentenced to double life in prison and a picture of Thomas White sentenced to only five years. Moreover, the picture shared on Twitter shows how the SR2 marketplace run by White was filled with child pornography, which was something strictly prohibited on the original Silk Road market. White is required to register as a sex offender for 10 years in addition to his five-year prison sentence.
What do you think about the sentencing of Thomas White a.k.a. DPR2? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Twitter, and Wiki Commons.
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Author: Jamie Redman