Eight months after Ulbricht’s conviction, his legal team argues that the actions of DEA agents Carl Force and Shaun Bridges, both found to be stealing bitcoins from Silk Road during their investigation, were not disclosed to the court during Ulbricht’s trial, nor was the investigation into the two agents made known to the defense team.
The 145-page appeal asks that the higher courts to expunge Ulbricht’s conviction for all seven charges – narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering, conspiracy to traffic fraudulent IDs and engaging in continuing criminal enterprise – arguing that the court deliberately withheld information regarding the investigation into Force and Bridges.
“To a significant degree the extent, and in some respects the nature, of Force’s misconduct – as well as Bridge’s participation altogether – was hidden by the government from the defense (and the court) in this case until after the trial,” writes Lead attorney Joshua Dratel.
“The life sentence imposed on 30-year-old Ross Ulbricht [now 31] shocks the conscience,” Dratel adds, “and is therefore substantially unreasonable. Accordingly, Ulbricht should be re-sentenced before a different judge to avoid the irremediable taint from the improper factors the court considered.”
The FBI recently arrested a man in Thailand based on his alleged links to the illicit online marketplace, Silk Road. The man, Roger Thomas Clark, was linked to the site as a supposed “key adviser” to its creator, Ross Ulbright. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced his arrest, claiming that Clark had been paid “at least hundreds of thousands of dollars” for his advise and assistance to the site.
Silk Road touted itself as an “anonymous marketplace”, and operated as a black market site on the dark net. The site was accessible through the Tor hidden service and used this to allow users to buy and sell illicit products free from tracking and monitoring. As a result, around 70% of Silk Road’s sales were of illegal drugs, but despite this, the site kept a strict list of things that were disallowed from listing, such as assassinations, weapons and jewellery. The original Silk Road site was shut down in October 2013, along with the arrest of its founder, Ulbright, who was given a life sentence in May. However Ulbright claimed to have transferred operations of the site to other parties after its founding, and a third version of Silk Road operates to this day.
According to the DoJ, Clark was a high ranking operator of the site and “served as Ross Ulbricht’s closest adviser and confidante as together they facilitated an anonymous global black market for all things illegal.” Online Clark went by the aliases “Variety Jones”, “VJ”, “Cimon” and others, with Ulbright describing Variety Jones as like a mentor to him in 2011.
Currently Clark is charged with one count of narcotics conspiracy, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. If found guilty of both, he could face up to 30 years imprisonment. It suspected he was attempting to avoid the legal repercussions of his actions in Thailand, following the arrest of Ulbright. Clark is currently in custody in Thailand, pending extradition to the United States where he will face trial.
Damn I really love the concept behind this, in what would be a world first, the US Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for a 3D-printed pill to be produced. I envisaged many things which could possibly be printed using this technique, but not a pill.
The new drug, has been coined Spritam, whether this was inspired by the word “Sprit” is open to interpretation, this drug has been developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to control seizures brought on by epilepsy. The company also plans to produce many different types of medical drugs using its very own 3D platform. This technique also has other advantages including the ability to print layers of medication more precisely so that dosages are even more accurate than before.
The most compelling aspect lies within production; the standard procedure is to manufacture medications in factories before shipping them to pharmacies, doctors and hospitals. If you are able to print them, this opens up the ability to create production lines nearer the patient. This also means in theory, doctors will not need to wait too long for medications to arrive which in turn would assist patients.
Spritam is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2016, according to Aprecia. Exciting times ahead if this technique makes it to market and hopefully, it will be available to everyone, not just for the wealthy or patients willing to pay over the odds.
Breaking Bad would be a different TV series if they 3D printed everything.
Thank You BBC for providing us with this information
The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for checking and maintaining people’s safety in regards to (surprise surprise) the food and drugs they are given. This time they’ve had to go a step further and “encourage” hospitals to replace a piece of tech from their supply lists and floors before it gets hacked.
Hospira’s Symbiq Infusion System (pictured in the centre above) is being recommended for immediate removal from hospitals all over due to a vulnerability in its ability to be controlled remotely. A third party can gain access to the device and control the dosages remotely which are then administrated by computerised pumps.
This discovery was made by the FDA and the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT for short). First reported on July 21st with a further alert made by the FDA on the 31st July. While they are open to being hacking, there has yet to be a reported instance of it happening.
The hack is done by connecting to the hospital network, allowing Symbiq systems to be remotely controlled. While the unit isn’t sold anymore by Hospira, it is still available from several third-party sellers.
This is the first adventure for the FDA in regards to discussing cybersecurity and the technology that is used to regulate and control food and medicine.
Gaming is a big market, and with games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Smite and Dota offering hundreds of thousands in prizes the competition heats up every year with each competition. As with all competitions, people use every chance to get ahead and sometimes these methods are seen as morally bad.
The Electronics Sports League (ESL) are hoping to combat one of the most popular methods for getting ahead in competitive sports, the use of drugs. Pairing up with the National Anti Doping Agentur (NADA) ESL hope to create rules that will enforce an anti-PED (performance enhancing drug) that will allow competitive gaming to continue without being drawn into an area other sports are often resistant to discuss. Hoping to also meet the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), they hope to enforce the ruling and prevent any performance enhancing drugs being used in any area of competitive gaming.
The reason for the sudden and swift response comes after professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player, Kory ‘Semphis’ Friesen who stated that not only did he use Adderall, but that other players were using the stimulant, often used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Personally I think this can only be a step in the right direction, taking anything that may help or hinder your performance for something which is meant to be for fun and a little challenge not only ruin the spirit of the games but also the reputation of those who hold such events.
Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information
Have you heard of the Silk Road? It’s been pretty big news recently. The website was the core of “the dark web” – a side of the internet that was only accessible to the uppermost of criminals.
The main person behind the Silk Road (Ross Ulbricht) was convicted for Life this week, after being prison since the 1st of October 2013. Ars Technica have published an article telling us what happened on that day:
On October 1, 2013, the last day that Ross Ulbricht would be free, he didn’t leave his San Francisco home until nearly 3:00pm. When he did finally step outside, he walked ten minutes to the Bello Cafe on Monterey Avenue but found it full, so he went next door to the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library. There, he sat down at a table by a well-lit window in the library’s small science fiction section and opened his laptop.
From his spot in the library, Ulbricht, a 29-year-old who lived modestly in a rented room, settled into his work. Though outwardly indistinguishable from the many other techies and coders working in San Francisco, Ulbricht actually worked the most unusual tech job in the city—he ran the Silk Road, the Internet’s largest drug-dealing website.
Shortly after connecting to the library WiFi network, Ulbricht was contacted on a secure, Silk Road staff-only chat channel.
“Are you there?” wrote Cirrus, a lieutenant who managed the site’s extensive message forums.
“Hey,” responded Ulbricht, appearing on Cirrus’ screen as the “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the pseudonym he had taken on in early 2012.
“Can you check out one of the flagged messages for me?” Cirrus wrote.
“Sure,” Ulbricht wrote back. He would first need to connect to the Silk Road’s hidden server. “Let me log in… OK, which post?”
Behind Ulbricht in the library, a man and woman started a loud argument. Ulbricht turned to look at this couple having a domestic dispute in awkward proximity to him, but when he did so, the man reached over and pushed Ulbricht’s open laptop across the table. The woman grabbed it and handed it off to FBI Special Agent Thomas Kiernan, who was standing nearby.
Ulbricht was arrested, placed in handcuffs, and taken downstairs. Kiernan took photos of the open laptop, occasionally pressing a button to keep it active. Later, he would testify that if the computer had gone to sleep, or if Ulbricht had time to close the lid, the encryption would have been unbreakable. “It would have turned into a brick, basically,” he said.
Then Cirrus himself arrived at the library to join Kiernan. Jared Der-Yeghiayan, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations, had been probing Silk Road undercover for two years, eventually taking over the Cirrus account and even drawing a salary from Ulbricht. He had come to California for the arrest, initiating the chat with Ulbricht—who had been under surveillance all day—from a nearby cafe.
Looking at Ulbricht’s computer, Der-Yeghiayan suddenly saw Silk Road through the boss’ eyes. In addition to the flagged message noted by Cirrus, the laptop’s Web browser was open to a page with an address ending in “mastermind.” It showed the volume of business moving through the Silk Road site at any given time. Silk Road vendors concealed their product in packages shipped by regular mail, and the “mastermind” page showed the commissions Silk Road stood to earn off those packages (the site took a bit more than 10 percent of a typical sale). It also showed the amount of time that had been logged recently by three top staffers: Inigo, Libertas, and Cirrus himself.
Ulbricht was soon transferred to a New York federal prison; bail was denied. In addition to charges of drug dealing and money-laundering, prosecutors claimed that Ulbricht had tried to arrange “hits” on a former Silk Road administrator and on several vendors. Though Ulbricht had in fact paid the money, the hits themselves were all faked—in one case, because a federal agent was behind the scheme, in another because Ulbricht appears to have been scammed using the same anonymity tools he championed.
Despite having been caught literally managing a drug empire at the moment of his arrest, Ulbricht pled not guilty. His family, together with a somewhat conspiracy-minded group of Bitcoin enthusiasts, raised a large pool of money for his defense. With it, Ulbricht hired Joshua Dratel, a defense lawyer who has handled high-profile terrorism trials.
Dratel did not reach any sort of plea deal with the government, as is common in such cases. Beyond a general insistence that his client was not, in fact, the Dread Pirate Roberts, Dratel offered no public explanation of what had happened in the Glen Park library—until January 2015, when the case went to trial at the federal courthouse on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan.
“Ross is a 30-year-old, with a lot at stake in this trial—as you could imagine,” Dratel said in his opening statement, addressing the jury in a low-key voice. “This case is about the Internet and the digital world, where not everything is as it seems. Behind a screen, it’s not always so easy to tell… you don’t know who’s on the other side.”
Ulbricht, he said, was only a fall guy, the stooge left holding the bag when the feds closed in; the “real” Dread Pirate Roberts was still at large. But would the jury buy this unlikely story?
The Silk road was a massive network of servers that provided a website to be able to buy almost every drug and illegal substance known to man. Upon login, users could see pictures of the substances and be able to access other tools such as hacking tools, fake ID’s and an illegal coupon scheme. All of which were held against Ulbricht in his trial. The site operated with a simple interface and had extensive user forums, providing a similar experience to Ebay and Craigslist. The website itself had no contact with drugs; it linked buyers and sellers together then taking a percentage of each transaction.
To access the website you had to use two technologies. Tor and Bitcoin. Tor was developed by the US navy originally and now managed by a nonprofit organization. It helped anonymize traffic by routing between several servers and encrypting the traffic on its way through.Bitcoin is known as a cryptocurrency; also an anonymous method for paying money to other anonymous people.
In July 2013, Der-Yeghiayan scored a bigger prize, taking over the account of a Silk Road staffer named “Cirrus.”
“Cirrus has always been dedicated to our community at large,” Dread Pirate Roberts explained in a private message introducing Cirrus to his small group of administrators shortly before Der-Yeghiayan took over the account.
Adopting Cirrus’ identity, Der-Yeghiayan earned 8 bitcoins a week—about $1,000 at the time—for moderating forum posts. After several weeks, he got a raise to 9 bitcoins a week. He was paid right up until the Silk Road site was shut down in October 2013.
For two years, Der-Yeghiayan worked the case without ever knowing DPR’s real name; he learned about “Ross Ulbricht” from another office just days before the arrest.
Homeland Security Investigations began making purchases from Silk Road, many of them under an account taken over from an existing site user called “dripsofacid.” (Various law enforcement agencies created their own accounts on Silk Road during its existence, but they also took over others after arresting their owners.)
When HSI made their controlled buys, they had the shipments sent to a name and address they used specifically for undercover purchases. Investigators compared the product received to the listing on Silk Road to confirm its origin. One purchase shown to the jury was 0.2 grams of brown heroin, bought from a seller in the Netherlands. The packaging was professional—the heroin tucked inside several plastic bags, which were themselves contained in a vacuum-sealed pouch, which was invisible behind a bluish sheet of paper.
Ultimately, HSI made 52 undercover buys from more than 40 distinct Silk Road dealers in 10 different countries. The drugs were all tested, and all but one purchase resulted in genuine goods. Silk Road, whatever one thought of it, worked as a market.
On the darknet, drugs are still available. But nowhere near the Silk Road has been seen, before or since. “Silk Road 2.0,” launched within a few months of Ulbricht’s arrest, lasted less than a year until its alleged creator, 25-year-old Blake Benthall, was arrested in San Francisco.
The most popular Silk Road successor, a darknet site called Evolution, shut down without warning in March—when its founders apparently emptied out the $12 million in its escrow system and ran. This sort of “exit scam” was the type of large-scale theft that users of such markets always knew was possible.
Any sense that the darknet could be a safe haven has now been shattered but Silk Road began years earlier, when the dream of creating a cryptographically protected libertarian utopia right in the midst of conventional society still seemed a reasonable proposition. But it was never likely to succeed for long—a fact that Ulbricht has now learned the hard way.
Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information
A machine invented by an Australian scientist that can “unboil an egg” by unfolding the proteins in egg whites back to their natural state has been hailed as a potential game-changer for the targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment.
The machine, the vortex fluidic device was invented by Professor Colin Raston from Flinders University works by using mechanical energy by spinning molecules at a phenomenal speed (up to 5000 rpm!) to control chemical processes. So far it has been used to “unboil” an egg by uncoiling the albumen proteins and returning them to their natural state, making them active again in a clear liquid.
The device may be able to assist in the delivery of chemotherapy drugs according to a report published by Nature.
“The machine dramatically improves the attachment of the platinum-based cancer drug carboplatin to nano-sized delivery tubes called vesicles. Carboplatin works by binding to cancer cells, inhibiting their DNA synthesis and cell division. The authors of the paper expect that the use of nano-tubes for delivery will allow for a more targeted release of the chemotherapy drug.”
“The hope is that by releasing carboplatin faster at lower pH levels, patients will be able to receive lower doses for more effective treatment.”
It also minimises drug waste. Up to half a tonne of manufacturing waste can be generated by the production of just one kilogramme of anti-cancer drugs.
“Much of the drugs end up in the sewerage system and [could] create superbugs in our environment,” Dr Raston said.
Thank you to TheAge for providing us with this information
A drug bust in Ostróda, northern Poland, led to the arrest of four men, one of whom is known to be a former world champion in computer gaming. The police are said to have searched three apartments, finding and seizing drugs and illegal weapons estimated to a value of 800,000 PLN (around £140,000).
It is said that 1.5 kg of amphetamine, 10.5 kg of marijuana and several thousand ecstasy tablets were found among the narcotics. PLN 70,000 (around £12,000) in cash were also found and confiscated, along with two revolvers and 100 rounds of ammunition.
If found guilty, the suspects, aged between 24 and 30, could face a prison sentence of up to 12 years. We’re currently waiting on an update as to which gaming champion was arrested.
Update: It is believed to be 2007 Quake Championship winner Maciej”av3k” Krzykowski.
v3k growing up, circa 2006 and 2012
Thank you Radio Poland for providing us with this information.
Drones are becoming a pretty big subject of debate at the moment. Law makers are hastily trying to figure out how to regulate them, thanks to issues with privacy, aviation, commercial use and the safety of those walking beneath them. But one thing we don’t see in the press all too often, is when drones try to smuggle illegal drugs across borders.
One such drone tried, but failed. In a big way. The drone you see in the image above was found in a Mexican car park, not too far from the US border. It was carrying 2.7kg of methamphetamine – clearly a load too heavy for this dji Spreading Wings 900.
According to Mashable, the border authorities estimate that 150 drones have been involved with smuggling drugs into the US since 2012 – something that will no doubt be of concern to US lawmakers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see stories like this used as arguments against more liberal drone regulations, with the FAA and the FCC already looking at much more stringent rules for RC pilots.
Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee Chan, has been arrested for marijuana possession at his home in Beijing.
Jaycee is the latest high-profile celebrity to be caught in Chinas biggest anti-drug crackdown in over 20 years. The 31-year-old was detained together with 23-year-old Taiwanese movie star Kai Ko last Monday but the arrests have only recently been announced. Police say that the actors have tested positive for marijuana and that over 100grams of it was taken from Jaycee’s home. Chan is accused of accommodating drug users, a far more serious offence than mere drug consumption that can carry up to three years imprisonment, Ko is accused of drug consumption.
This comes as an embarrassment to Jackie Chan as he has been a “Narcotics Control Ambassador” for China since 2009. Jackie has had some disagreements with his son with him even saying that he is going to donate all of his money to charity rather than leaving it to him in a will. Jackie has not yet commented, but his publicist has said that he has travelled to Beijing to deal with the arrest.
The Chinese government have been targeting celebrities due to the “huge influence” that they have on “their large number of fans”. Showing celebrities getting arrested should hopefully make their fans think twice about doing the same.
Thanks to BBC for supplying us with this information.
A new project is being funded by the Gates Foundation that could end the need to take a daily contraceptive pill. Instead of taking one pill a day, their project could result in you taking one pill that lasts 16 years! It seems like complete over kill for a tablet to last so long, but it’s not as simple as it sounds.
Using a single smart capsule which releases the required drug over time means you only need to take it once. The capsule can respond to a remote wireless signal from something like a dedicated hand scanner to enable, disable or alter the treatment dosage when you visit the doctors.
The project is already well underway and they hope to start preclinical testing in 2015, with a goal of reaching the market in 2018.
Obviously there are hacking concerns and other issues with carrying a 16 year dose of a powerful hormone in your system, so a lot of things have to be done right before this becomes commercially viable, but it’s an interesting approach that could pave the way for some radical changes in medicine.
Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.
So the story begins with a supposed drug dealer buying a the AWS-100 scale from the online retailer. And then another drug dealer bought the same scale. Then another. Then another.
As most consumers are well aware of, when you search an item on Amazon, a data tracking system will use your search history to recommend other products that other users may have purchased. Well it turns out that these drug dealers bought a lot of their materials from the online retailer. Now when any customer searches for the particular scale they are recommended a laundry list of items for your own DIY drug kits.
The team at Mashable provided some of their recommended results based on searching the AWS-100 scale:
Many “spice” grinders
A rolling paper and tray bundle
Bulk pure caffeine powder (perhaps to cut heroin?)
An encapsulation machine and gelatin capsules
A scientific spatula
A diamond tester (?!)
“Air Tight Odorless Medical Jar Herb Stash Medicine Container”
Tweezer and snifter set for “miners and prospectors”
A tool for cleaning a gun part
A safe in the form of a Dr. Pepper can
Potassium Metabisulfite (for decontamination?)
A drug testing kit (“this kit contains the same reagent chemicals as found in Justice Department test kits”)
A really powerful magnet
“TAP DAT ASH” ashtray
Beta alanine powder (maybe for bodybuilders?)
An actual drug called kratom (big in Thailand, apparently)
This was obviously unintentional on Amazon’s part but it’s hard not to find the comedic aspect of this.
A great point that was brought up by Mashable was the possible impact this could have on how long it is before authorities begin requesting account info based on shopping trends by users on Amazon.
The Digital Rights Advocacy Group, The EFF, has stated that “the service is not making clear to their users what standards and rules law enforcement must follow when they seek access to sensitive user data.”
Thank you to Mashable for providing us with this information.
Wales Online reports that something strange has been going on around the streets of the Welsh town Newport. While Cannabis is an illegal drug in the UK and Wales, its use is relatively common and widespread and rapidly becoming socially acceptable in many parts of the country – especially London. That said, in Newport passers by spotted Cannabis growing in the street plant pots that has thousands of passers-by every day.
Apparently they didn’t last long though, and the spotter (Dean Beddis) stated that:
“It’s actually rather a beautiful plant and stood out wonderfully…But they have gone now. I don’t know who took them…Either the council spotted them or some young type has spotted them and put them in his garden.”
The incident has embarrassed Newport council and police are now examining CCTV to figure out if they have been deliberately planted for cultivation of if they were mixed in with the compost and as compost very often has hemp seeds in it.
While people’s discontent for politicians is often expressed in a diverse range of ways, Mexicans have taken it that one step further according to a NY Daily News report. The Mexican town of Xalapa has a new candidate for the town’s mayoralty – Morris the cat. The cat’s owner, Sergio Camacho, says his cat is the symbol of the discontent towards Mexican politicians.
In Xalapa, Eastern Mexico, Morris the cat is riding the social media wave and attracting the support of unhappy voters. His slogan “Tired of Voting for Rats? Vote for a Cat” has caught the imagination of quite a few people in Xalapa and across the world. This has sparked a trend across Mexico of people nominating their pets and farm animals to run in the July the 7th elections being held in 14 states.
Xalapa, the capital of the Mexican state Veracruz, is a city of 450,000 people that has reportedly been troubled by drug violence, corruption, scandals and brutal murders of media workers.
Despite the light-hearted and fun nature of Morris the cat the overall sentiment is quite clear – there is discontent towards the current political system. At some stage you’ve got to hope that the people of Xalapa grab a reality check because if they want to change how things work then the last thing that is going to do any good is wasting their vote on a cat. In my opinion they should be getting together to encourage participatory reforms of the state governance process or they should develop new parties and candidates to put forward in the election.
Colombia is very well known for its problems with drugs, particularly cocaine, yet it is also very well known for its large amount of banana exports, which Latin America as a whole is very famous for along with the Caribbean too. Strangely though you’d never expect these two paths to really cross, legal food exports and illegal drug exports. For one Danish supermarket exactly that recently happened according to reports.
Staff at a Coop chain supermarket in Aarhus, Western Denmark, were surprised to find that their boxes of bananas were heavier than usual. It was only upon opening and inspecting them that they found out that the boxes were actually all rammed full of Cocaine, a hefty 220 lbs of it.
A coop spokesman said more bags of cocaine were found later in another shipment from Colombia in their central dispatch depot in the nation’s capital Copenhagen. Naturally the coop contacted their Columbian supplier to find out what was going on. The Danish police are currently investigating but no arrests have been made.
According to some sources 220 lbs of Cocaine, around 100 kg, has a street value of $2-10 million USD depending on its quality. Maybe next time Danish customs officials might be a bit more suspicious of those “bananas” coming from Colombia.
We are always told about how bad canned drinks like Soda are for us. Dentists always tell us how we should avoid drinking excessive amounts of fizzy drinks and just googling the phrase “other uses for coke” will show you that the ingredients within your average can of coca cola will allow you to clean your car batteries and remove tarnish from coins.
A recent study, detailed by the Inquisitr, shows that your average can of soda affects teeth in roughly the same way as methamphetamine (meth for short) and crack cocaine. Interestingly enough it does not matter if they are diet or not, the sugar level is not what causes the harm. The harmful agents are the various acidic substances that are present in fizzy drinks.
Dr Eugene Antenucchi, writing in the Journal of General Dentistry, stated that:
“From my experience, the damage that happens to people’s mouths from cocaine or methamphetamine are degrees greater than what I see from soda, but I see a lot of damage from soda.”
He talks further about closely monitoring a crack addict, a regular meth user and someone who had 2 liters of soda per day. He states that after a while they all suffered a similar amount of extensive tooth decay and oral damage.
However, Dr Antenucchi did go on to say that “To single out diet soda consumption as the unique factor in her tooth decay and erosion – and to compare it to that from illicit drug use – is irresponsible”. There is a need for a more complete picture of the person’s lifestyle and bad oral health cannot be put down to a single thing.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you regularly drink “fizzy drinks” or soda?