Feds Apparently Didn't Communicate With Each Other About Various Silk Road Investigations

from the left-hand,-right-hand dept

There's been plenty of talk about Silk Road since the site got shut down and Ross Ulbricht was arrested and accused of being Dread Pirate Roberts behind the site. Of course, it struck us as interesting that hours after the arrest and the criminal complaint in NY, there was also an indictment in Maryland. Since then, there have been a bunch of Silk Road related arrests concerning drug dealers who used the site. One of those, as named in our last post on this, was Steven Sadler of Bellevue, Washington.

The folks over at The Smoking Gun have a bunch of details about Sadler, which show that he wasn't discovered as a result of the Ulbricht arrest, but rather had been raided months ago and became an informant for the feds. His arrest and court hearing were rushed into place after the Ulbricht arrest and the site shut down:
The hastily arranged court appearance for Sadler was prompted by the FBI's arrest a day earlier of Ross Ulbricht, who has been charged with being the mastermind behind the Silk Road site, which operated on the "darknet" (or "deep web"). Simultaneous to Ulrich's bust, federal investigators shut down the two-year-old site, which relied on the anonymizing tool Tor to shield both vendors and patrons.

During the October 2 hearing, federal prosecutor Thomas Woods told Tsuchida that "Mr. Sadler has been cooperating, working for the government for the past two months." Referring to "unusual circumstances," Woods noted that "through reasons unrelated to" Sadler, his cooperation "abruptly came to an end this morning." Sadler's lawyer told Tsuchida that her client was in "constant communication with the government."
Of course, this makes you wonder just how (un)coordinated the various efforts against Silk Road really were by the feds. We've got two separate lawsuits filed against Ulbricht in two separate courts, and now we find out that the feds had already been working one of the site's top dealers (Sadler went by the name "Nod" on the site). You'd think the feds would be a bit more communicative with each other over their various attempts to investigate Silk Road, its operators and users.

The details also suggest a few other informants, including one who taught investigators how to use Silk Road:
Investigators also were aided by a confidential informant who agreed to cooperate after agents seized several packages mailed to her by Silk Road heroin dealers. In a TSG interview, the woman--a business owner in her thirties--said she had made several heroin purchases from "Nod" and allowed investigators to take over her Silk Road account to make undercover drug purchases.

A self-described "junkie" who has been clean since May, the informant said she helped a postal inspector navigate Silk Road and explained how to fund an account with Bitcoin, the virtual currency used for purchases. When an undercover drug purchase failed to arrive, a postal inspector--apparently sensing a rip-off--sent the woman an e-mail seeking advice as to how to address the missing Express Mail parcel with the narcotics seller. When the informant referred to the package "going missing," the inspector replied, "I know the package is not missing, I work for the post office…hahaha. They just have not sent it."
Either way, it seems likely that more arrests are coming, but it still seems to suggest a level of dysfunction among the feds with regards to coordinating their investigations.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Morons

    Referring to "unusual circumstances," Woods noted that "through reasons unrelated to" Sadler, his cooperation "abruptly came to an end this morning."

    Yes, of course, that's exactly the kind of message you want to send to any potential future informants, 'Work with us, help up catch other criminals, and we'll still charge you and send you to jail as if you hadn't helped us at all.' /s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:01am

    More afraid of leaks

    Assange predicted this as an impact of having their dirty little secrets exposed. Their fear of leaks will cause them to fail to communicate and make them less effective.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    OldMugwump (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:10am

    ReL fear of leaks will cause them to fail to communicate and make them less effective

    "It's a good thing we don't get all the government we pay for."
    - Will Rogers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Re: Morons

    "What do you mean you can't help us any more? I don't want to hear about how we arrested the guy who runs the service you were using to get us the info, you still owe us a bunch of work before you're free to go."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:31am

    Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Not entirely related but notice that no mass surveillance or unconstitutional stuff seem to have been used here. Just plain old investigative work.

    Food for thought.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 10:51am

    so what's new? they couldn't find their ass if they were holding it in both hands!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Loki, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:03am

    Re:

    Plus it points out that all the data in the world is meaningless if it's not being properly utilized/shared.

    It reminds me of when I was younger and I had a lot more free time to read. One of the things that always annoyed me was that characters would never properly communicate with each other. I lost track of the number of books I read where so much shit could have been figured out or avoided if people had just spent five minutes sharing information.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Zos (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:13am

    i don't see it. details of investigations are kept compartmentalized, to avoid leaks and other issues, plus these would be different offices, different organizations entirely. Informants names especially are held very close to the vest, even more so during ongoing investigations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Michael, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:33am

    Re:

    Then what they really need is a bigger pile of asses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re:

    Also known as Poor Communication Kills (warning: tvtropes link).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    wto605 (profile), Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Twisted tuesday

    1) FBI can't see the forest for the trees... shuts down a grey market for the headlines... snore
    2) DHS acts like a jerk and arraigns an informant when he upheld his deal... no news there
    3) DHS originally saw the forest (drugs) for the trees (silk road), responded appropriately, and targeted ACTUAL CRIMES??? what's going on in this world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 2:30pm

    "Either way, it seems likely that more arrests are coming, but it still seems to suggest a level of dysfunction among the feds with regards to coordinating their investigations."

    So, business as usual then?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Mike Gogulski, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 11:48pm

    Bah

    The feds are dysfunctional by design.

    Free Ross Ulbricht! https://www.rossulbricht.org/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Dread Pirate Robot, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 3:17am

    Re:

    lol. What Ninja means is: no unconstitutional stuff made it into the case file for the judge and jury to see.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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