Dublin and US main focus of 'darknet’ drug site takedown

Silk Road 2 illegal website disabled by FBI, Europol and Department of Homeland Security

The detention of the suspects in south Dublin on Wednesday were two of only three arrests globally.

The detention of the suspects in south Dublin on Wednesday were two of only three arrests globally.

 

The arrests of two men on suspicion of selling drugs from Dublin via the secretive part of the internet known as the darknet was part of a major day of action in which some of the biggest secret drug trading sites in the word were taken down, it has emerged.

Most of the activity was conducted in the Republic and the US.

The detention of the suspects in south Dublin on Wednesday were two of only three arrests globally. The third man, who was detained in the United States, is alleged to be a darknet pioneer running the major Silk Road 2 site.

It has emerged as one of the biggest online trading places for illicit drugs since its establishment 12 months ago when it replaced the original Silk Road site after it was disabled by the US authorities.

Silk Road 2 was effectively disabled and seized yesterday in a major operation involving law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, the US Department of Homeland Security and Europol.

Those visiting the site were greeted with a notice posted by the agencies explaining the site had been disabled and warning others involved in the darknet they would eventually be caught.

Other smaller similar sites where drugs are offered for sale and orders can be placed and paid for in bitcoin have also been disabled as part of the international Operation Onymous.

The drug market sites Hydra and Cloud 9 were also disabled.

A man arrested in San Francisco is alleged to have been running the Silk Road 2 site under the pseudonym ‘Defcon’.

According to the criminal complaint filed against him in the US, the site was generating $8 million per month in bitcoin based sales.

While LSD and ecstasy valued at around €180,000 was seized when gardai moved in on Wednesday on a business premises on Dublin’s South Circular Road allegedly being used as a drugs distribution hub by the main Irish suspect, bitcoin valued at around $2.5 million has been seized in the global operation.

Gardai believe the Irish suspects were taking orders on the encrypted Silk Road 2 site and were then posting drugs to customers all over the world.

The secretive darknet website, accessed by the Tor anonymity network which conceals users’ identities and locations around the world, was infiltrated by an undercover US Homeland Security investigator before it went online last year.

The intelligence gathered by that operative appears to have been instrumental in the events of the past two days in Ireland and the US.

However, members of the Garda National Drugs Unit and National Bureau of Fraud Investigation also infiltrated the darknet and placed the Irish suspect under surveillance.

The Garda operation waited to move in on the suspect and his accomplice until such time they believed they were in possession of drugs.

The Garda team moved in rapidly at lunchtime on Wednesday and managed to seize the computers being used by the men before data could be deleted.

A number of computers have been seized and are being examined and gardaí have also found paperwork relating to bank accounts across the world including in Belize, Poland and Switzerland.