In 2015, WIRED published a list of the ‘dark web drug lords who got away.’ That list included the Dread Pirate Roberts 2 (DPR2), the creator of the second Silk Road site, which launched almost immediately after the FBI ended the first with the famous arrest of founder Ross Ulbricht.
Under DPR2, Silk Road 2 went on to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. The FBI shut that one down too and arrested its remaining administrator. By that time, DPR2 had already passed ownership of the site on and, publicly, it looked like he had evaded prosecution.
But today, a court in Liverpool, England, sentenced Thomas White, a technologist and privacy activist, for crimes committed in part while running Silk Road 2 under the DPR2 persona, among other crimes committed under another persona. White pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering, as well as making indecent images of children, and was sentenced to a total of 5 years and 4 months in prison.
White’s arrest took place in November 2014, but the case has remained largely under-wraps because of the UK’s strict court reporting rules, which prohibit journalists from covering some cases before their conclusion. This is to stop suspects facing "trial by media," and in order to let cases run their course.
Paul Chowles, an investigator from the National Crime Agency (NCA) who worked on the case, told Motherboard in a phone call one piece of evidence included the private encryption key belonging to DPR2 on one of White’s computers. If someone possesses the private part of a PGP key, which is used to decrypt and sign messages, it can be a good indicator that they are behind a particular online identity.
White has been out of prison on bail since his arrest in 2014, and became reasonably well-known in security circles under his real name in the time between his arrest and sentencing. After working on the Silk Road 2, White adopted the handle ‘The Cthulhu,.’ a moniker that may b...