Monday 17 June 2019

Man who allegedly helped run Silk Road website is extradited

Kilpeddar man faces charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering

A Kilpeddar man has been extradited to the United States after fighting the case on the grounds he would be detained in an inhuman and degrading manner.

Gary Davis (30), of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, was wanted by US authorities to face trial on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

If convicted in the US Davis could receive a life sentence. It is probable that he will be incarcerated pending his trial.

Last Friday, the Manhattan US Attorney said Davis, who allegedly helped run the 'Silk Road' website which was responsible for selling more than $200 million in illegal narcotics and other contraband, had been extradited.

Geoffrey S Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Davis who was also allegedly known as 'Libertas', was extradited from Ireland to America.

Davis was arrested in January 2014 for charges arising out of his role as a member of the administrative staff of 'Silk Road'. During its operation from 2011 until 2013, Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other unlawful vendors to distribute illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers, and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars derived from those unlawful transactions.

His extradition was ordered by the High Court in Ireland in August 2016 and an appeal against that order was dismissed by the three-judge Court of Appeal in March 2017. Davis was immediately put into custody having been on bail since proceedings began three years ago.

Davis had opposed his extradition on grounds that he suffers from both a form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome and depression. Among his points of objection were that if he was extradited he would be detained in an inhumane and degrading manner.

Last week, Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey S Berman said: 'Gary Davis allegedly served as an administrator who helped run the Silk Road, a secret online marketplace for illegal drugs, hacking services, and an assortment of other criminal activities. Thanks to our partner agencies here and abroad, Davis now faces justice in an American court.'

It is alleged that Mr Davis was an administrator of the Silk Road website from June 2013 to October 2013 using the pseudonym 'Libertas', according to the Court of Appeal's judgment.

The website is said to have facilitated the sale of illicit drugs including cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth and other illegal drugs.

Purchasers of illicit drugs from the website were paid in 'Bitcoins' and Silk Road revenue was based on a commission of between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of sale revenue.

Commissions earned by Silk Road are said to run to tens of millions of dollars.

It is alleged that Davis was paid $1,500 per week for his services.

In the course of its investigation of the Silk Road website, the FBI arrested a US citizen Ross Ulbricht, whom it is believed was the owner and operator of the website. It is alleged that Mr Davis' involvement was identified from information extracted from Mr Ulbricht's computer.

Previously in court, Davis has been described as a single man who lives with his parents in Wicklow. He is the youngest of five children, has a poor employment history, is 'obsessed with computers' and is described as a 'loner, naive and immature'.

In a report dated January 21, 2014, Prof Michael Fitzgerald, Consultant Psychiatrist, diagnosed Asperger's Syndrome depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. In his view, Asperger's Syndrome has been evident since childhood.

The charges in the Superseding Indictment against Davis include: one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Last week, Mr Berman praised the outstanding joint efforts of the FBI and its New York Special Operations and Cyber Division, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations - Chicago-O'Hare, the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York Field Division, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation's New York Field Office.

Mr Berman also thanked the Irish Republic's Computer Crime Investigation Unit of the An Garda Siochana for its assistance and support. He also thanked the US Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs for their support and assistance.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office's Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D Neff, Eun Young Choi, and Timothy T Howard and are in charge of the prosecution.

Wicklow People