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Washington man sentenced in dark web case

Seattle residents may have heard about highly encrypted websites that trade in contraband such as weapons and drugs. These "dark web" sites are considered by many to operate beyond the reach of traditional law enforcement. However, the June 3 sentencing of a 27-year-old Bellevue man for his involvement with the black market website Silk Road 2.0 indicates that the dark web may not be quite as dark as once thought.

The man was given an eight-year prison sentence for being one of the leading figures behind Silk Road 2.0. The website was set up in 2013, and authorities claim that thousands of merchants, including drug dealers, sell about $8 million worth of goods each month to the site's 150,000 or so users. The man is said to have provided administrative support to the site's owner as well as moderating discussions on its forums. Reports indicate that police recovered drug paraphernalia, silver bullion and $35,000 in cash when they searched the man's house subsequent to his January 2015 arrest.

The man was taken into custody following an investigation conducted by the Seattle-Tacoma Border Enforcement Security Task Force. This task force is made up of personnel from federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as well as the Port of Seattle and Seattle Police Departments. The U.S. Attorney's Office prosecuted the case.

This case demonstrates how severe the penalties faced by those convicted on drug charges can be even when they were not involved directly in the buying or selling of the drugs concerned. Criminal defense lawyers may seek more sympathetic treatment for clients by challenging the validity of evidence and search warrants or by pointing out mitigating factors during plea negotiation discussions.

Source: U.S. ICE, "Key figure in 'Silk Road' drug distribution scheme sentenced to 8 years in prison," June 6, 2016

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