On Wednesday, the FBI arrested Blake Benthall, 26, in San Francisco, accusing him of running the deep web drug marketplace Silk Road 2.0.
SpaceX confirmed to Business Insider that Benthall was previously employed at the California-based rocket development company founded by Elon Musk. Benthall worked as a flight software engineer from Dec. 9, 2013 until Feb. 21, 2014.
The FBI accuses Benthall of running the Silk Road in his spare time, allegedly overseeing the notorious deep web marketplace’s booming trade in drugs and other illegal items.
A 2008 photo from a Facebook account that appears to belong to Benthall shows him reading a book called “Pot Stories For The Soul” in a library. Marijuana was one of the most popular items sold on the Silk Road.
We also found a six-second Vine video showing Benthall and his friends making mock blue crystal meth, as featured in the television series “Breaking Bad.”
Additionally, Benthall proudly posted online of his experience with crytocurrency Bitcoin. His Twitter bio reads “rocket scientist, bitcoin dreamer.” The FBI’s criminal complaint against Benthall claims that the Silk Road’s employees were paid exclusively through Bitcoin, and that Benthall ran the site’s “tumbler” that ensured transactions remained anonymous.
A LinkedIn profile that appears to belong to Benthall shows he worked at a charity in his native Texas, helping to design and maintain its website.
He went on to work as a volunteer programmer for a project that brought the Linux operating system to the newly launched iPod, before creating a video game hosting company in his teenage years, according to the LinkedIn profile.
The young programmer attended a Florida college from 2007 to 2008, where he organised concerts and performed as part of the school’s band, the LinkedIn profile shows.
Here’s a video showing Benthall (singing and playing the keyboard) performing a cover of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida:
Benthall moved to San Francisco in 2009 and began his tech career. He worked at a consultancy company that listed Walt Disney and Square among its customers, although, as Valleywag reports, that job didn’t overlap with the Silk Road 2.0.
In 2013 Benthall joined SpaceX, working to develop the rocket exploration company’s flight software. This was the job that Benthall worked at while he allegedly ran the Silk Road.
The Daily Dot has discovered a Hacker News post seemingly written by Benthall in which he discusses his work at SpaceX:
Benthall also ran a tech incubator out of his San Francisco home at the same time the FBI accuses him of overseeing the world’s largest online drug market, Forbes’ Ryan Mac reports.
The FBI accuses Benthall of using Bitcoin gained from running the Silk Road to buy a Tesla car.
One day before the Silk Road 2.0’s first birthday, the FBI arrested Benthall and raided his home in San Francisco’s Mission district.
On Thursday, the anniversary of the Silk Road 2.0’s launch, the arrest was revealed and the drug marketplace taken down as part of Operation Onymous, a cross-continent scheme involving the FBI and European police.
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