AP NEWS

Silk Road 2.0 leader Thomas White sentenced to more than 5 years over defunct online drug bazaar

April 12, 2019

A lengthy and secretive case surrounding the website that briefly succeeded the infamous Silk Road marketplace culminated in a British man being sentenced to over 5 years behind bars Friday.

Thomas White, 24, was sentenced during a hearing held in Liverpool Crown Court to five years and four months imprisonment for acting as what U.K. authorities called the “guiding mind” of Silk Road 2.0, an online bazaar where users bought and sold drugs and other illegal goods after the original site was seized by the FBI and shut down in October 2013 in tandem with the arrest of its administrator, Ross Ulbricht.

White was among a crew of original Silk Road users and drug dealers who worked after Ulbricht’s arrest to reboot the site a month later, the Crown Prosecution Service explained in an announcement detailing the case. Branded as Silk Road 2.0, that site ultimately suffered the same fate as its predecessor and went offline the following year.

“Although Thomas White used anonymity and pseudonyms to try and cover his tracks, the CPS was able to show that he was the guiding mind behind the building of Silk Road 2.0,” said John Williams, the head of the agency’s Organised Crime Division.

“He received an income that allowed lavish spending with no credible explanation. He had also provided money laundering advice and sold MDMA on the original Silk Road site,” Mr. Williams added.

Silk Road 2.0 generated “millions of dollars in monthly sales” by facilitating the sale of illegal goods and services, the U.S. Department of Justice said previously.

White was arrested in November 2014, the same month Silk Road 2.0 shuttered, but the U.K. sealed details about his case until it came to a close. He pleaded guilty to two drug counts and transferring criminal property, in addition to possession of child pornography in relation to material authorities found on a seized laptop, the CPS said in a statement.

The Justice Department previously announced charges against others accused of running Silk Road 2.0, including its alleged operator, Blake Benthall of California, and his assistant, Brian Richard Farrell of Washington state. No developments in Mr. Benthall’s case have emerged since 2015, while Farrell was sentenced in 2016 to eight years in federal prison.

Ulbricht, the administrator of the original Silk Road, was convicted on seven counts related to the site as is serving life imprisonment without parole. His supporters are seeking clemency from President Trump.

Gary Davis, an Irish man charged with helping Ulbricht, was extradited to the U.S. last year, pleaded guilty to related counts and is scheduled to be sentenced next month. The U.S. has recommended a sentence of 8 years.

Roger Thomas Clark, a Canadian man also charged in relation to the original Silk Road, was extradited last year from Thailand, meanwhile. He has pleaded not guilty and his next court date is currently scheduled for July 18.