Homeland Security’s investigation into the latest iteration of the underground website Silk Road has cast a spotlight on a Bellevue resident believed to have purchased massive quantities of prescription drugs through the site for distribution.
Not long after the FBI arrested operator Ross Ulbricht in October 2013 and shut down the website — popular for purchasing illicit goods like drugs and firearms — Silk Road 2.0 was created. Operating like its predecessor, SR2 uses a special worldwide network of computers to conceal Internet Protocols and protect its users’ anonymity.
The FBI gathered information from January to July 2014 that resulted in identifying at least 17 other black markets through the same network, according to an affidavit for search warrant filed in King County Superior Court on Jan. 7.
The IP address for Bellevue resident Brian Farrell was found to have been used to access the vendor portal for SR2, according to the affidavit, prompting Homeland Security to begin surveillance on his home from early August to late December.
Farrell was detained in Chicago by Customs and Border Protection officers while returning home from Europe on Dec. 20. He allegedly refused to provide investigators with pass codes to several computer devices or explain why he was traveling with so many digital devices, according to the affidavit. Those items were seized and forwarded to Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle.
HSI special agents contacted Farrell and his roommate at their Bellevue home two days later. Farrell allegedly admitted to visiting the site, but denied buying or selling drugs on Silk Road 2.0.
The affidavit states Farrell’s roommate described the former Microsoft contractor as bragging about being a hacker with ties to the “Anonymous” collective. He also told authorities Farrell has an “astonishing” drug habit, and receives packages in the mail frequently.
Homeland Security collected more than 100 Xanax pills from the roommate the following day, which had been in a package he allegedly intercepted from Farrell once it was delivered to their home.