Thomas White, founder of the Silk Road 2.0 website, which allowed the purchase and sale of illicit products, has been imprisoned for five years and four months in the United Kingdom. White, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts 2, was also convicted of possessing hundreds of abusive images of children.
The 24-year-old was an administrator of the original Silk Road website before it was shut down by the FBI in 2013. Within a month of the site being closed he set up its successor, Silk Road 2.0.
The UK’s National Crime Agency said it is unknown how much money the former accountancy student made from the nearly $100 million worth of illicit goods trafficked on Silk Road 2.0. However, he is thought to have charged a commission of between 1 and 5 percent on each of the tens of thousands of transactions on the site and despite having no legitimate source of income paid £10,700 up front in rent for a luxury apartment in his native Liverpool.
When this flat was raided by police in 2014 they discovered a laptop, which once eventually decrypted, was found to contain 464 category A (the most severe) indecent images of children. In an online chat with an administrator of Silk Road 2.0 that was discovered on his laptop, White had said he wanted to set up a paedophiles’ website to publish the images.
Besides the evidence on the laptop, the authorities were able to establish a direct link between the second version of Silk Road and Thomas White, thanks to financial transactions and exchanges in Bitcoin.
According to the NCA, White was also in possession of “a vast amount of encrypted material” including data hacked from the FBI, NASA, the FBI, as well as users’ details from extramarital dating website Ashley Madison and the database of the US Fraternal Order of the Police.
Between the time of his arrest and his trial, White, writing in his own name, became a well-known commentator on internet security and privacy, contributing articles on these subjects to a number of high-profile publications.
“Close working with American partners in the FBI, Homeland Security and the Department of Justice has resulted in the take down of global illegal drug empires and the targeting of associated money laundering, primarily involving crypto-currencies,” the NCA said in a statement.