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In the beginning of 2012, Der-Yeghiayan, a Department of Homeland Security investigator, started to investigate about Silk Road after noticing many drug shipments passing through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, his formal workplace. The photos and descriptions included in these shipments were matched with the drugs advertised on Silk Road website.
Der-Yeghiayan and his team decided to create an undercover account under the username “dripsofacid” to investigate the Silk Road website. Throughout the investigation period, Der-Yeghiayan spent thousands of hours on Silk Road community forums and completed about 50 undercover purchases from 40 dealers from 10 different countries. These purchases were made through using Bitcoins, since that’s the digital currency Silk Road used. He also seized multiple accounts of buyers and sellers on the Silk Road website. These accounts were from criminals who had been caught for illegal activities and cooperated to decrease their sentence.
In July of 2013, Der-Yeghiayan seized the administrator account named “Cirrus”. From here on, he was able to report directly to Dread Pirate Roberts. He communicated with Dread Pirate Roberts several times a week. Der-Yeghiayan was getting paid about $1,000 per week directly from Dread Pirate Roberts. The pays were for managing the Silk Road’s forum and solving user issues. There were three more forum moderators other than “Cirrus”. At this moement, Dread Pirate Roberts wasn’t aware that “Cirrus” account has been seized by an undercover agent.
Although Der-Yeghiayan was able to seize an administrator account and communicate with Dread Pirate Roberts often times, he didn’t know that Ross Ulbricht was the suspect. In September 2013, one of the IRS investigators informed Der-Yeghiayan that Ross Ulbricht is the suspect and a good match to Dread Priate Roberts. Then, Der-Yeghiayan flew to San Francisco to join the New York based FBI team. This team was led by agent Christopher Tarbell.On October 1 of 2013, the FBI agents and Der-Yeghiayan cooperated to arrest Ross Ulbricht. The FBI agents were constantly watching Ross Ulbricht and his apartment while Der-Yeghiayan was on his laptop at the café called Bello Coffee where Ross Ulbricht often visited. Der-Yeghiayan was keep watching the staff chat and Dread Pirate Roberts remained online. At 2:37 PM, Dread Pirate Roberts went offline from the staff chat and Der-Yeghiayan was notified by the FBI agents that Ross Ulbricht left his apartment and heading to the café. Then, Der-Yeghiayan immediately left and set on a bench near the café.
Ross Ulbricht went into the café, but left right away because it was too crowded. Ross Ulbricht changed his destination to the Glen Park Public Library near the café. The FBI agents and Der-Yeghiayan followed Ulbricht and went into the library. Der-Yeghiayan’s laptop remained on and he found a safe spot to start a communication with Ross Ulbricht. At 3:08 PM, Ulbricht opened his laptop and logged on to the staff chat.
After Der-Yeghiayan noticed that Dread Pirate Roberts is logged on to the staff chat, he started a planned chat with him. Der-Yeghiayan asked Dread Pirate Roberts to check one of the flagged messages for him in the Silk Road forum. Dread Pirate Roberts asked Der-Yeghiayan which post he’s referring to. At this moment, Der-Yeghiayan knew that Ulbricht has logged on to his Silk Road account. Der-Yeghiayan sent a cue to the FBI agents to arrest Ulbricht. The FBI agents seized the laptop first then arrested Ross Ulbricht.
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