Gary Davis, a 30-year-old man from Wicklow, Ireland, recently pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. This was for his involvement in the original Silk Road darknet marketplace on which he is accused of providing services between May and June of 2013. Davis was a paid administrator, arbitrator, and forum moderator for the Silk Road and went by the handle Libertas. He is alleged to have received weekly payments worth $1,500 from Ross Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts. The maximum penalty that Davis is facing is 20 years in a federal prison. Just last month Davis pled not guilty to charges brought against him by the United States Department of Justice.
In 2016, Davis fought his extradition from Ireland, but was ultimately unsuccessful. In August of 2016, Gary Davis’ attorneys argued that Davis was at risk of death in an American prison. Davis’ attorneys arguments did not convince the Irish courts, and Davis was finally extradited to the United States in July of this year. During this time a legal battle developed between Microsoft and the United States Department of Justice which centered around e-mails from Davis’ personal Hotmail account. The courts ended up agreeing with Microsoft and the company was not required to hand over Davis’ emails which were stored on a server outside of the jurisdiction of the United States.
Davis entered his guilty plea before United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman in a Manhattan federal courtroom. In a press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York prosecutors stated that Silk Road had conducted more than $200 million worth of transactions for drugs and other illegal products. The government claims that Silk Road had in excess of 100,000 users who bought drugs and other illegal products on the darknet.
“Silk Road was a secret online marketplace… and as he admitted today, Gary Davis served as an administrator who helped run the Silk Road marketplace. [His] arrest, extradition from Ireland, and conviction should send a clear message: the purported anonymity of the dark web is not a protective shield from prosecution,” the federal prosecutor, Geoffery S. Berman, said in a press release.
Davis’ duties on the original Silk Road darknet market included responding to requests for assistance and customer support, settling disputes between buyers and vendors, and ensuring that vendors were following the site’s rules. One of the rules that Davis enforced on the original Silk Road market was a requirement that all transactions be conducted through an escrow system. If it was discovered that a vendor was arranging for payments to be made off site, then administrators such as Libertas could restrict a vendor’s privileges on the market, demote the vendor, and often reported the vendor to the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Gary Davis awaits his sentencing in a Manhattan federal courtroom which is currently scheduled for Thursday, January 17, 2019. Although the original Silk Road was shut down by law enforcement in October of 2013, Davis’ case is not the last prosecution related to the Silk Road. In June of this year, a 56-year-old Canadian man named Roger Thomas Clark, who went by the handle Variety Jones, was extradited to the United States to face charges related to his involvement in the operation of the original Silk Road. The convicted creator and administrator of the original Silk Road darknet market, Ross Ulbricht, is currently serving life sentences in a federal supermax prison in Colorado.
In July of this year, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear Ulbricht’s appeal. Ulbricht has opened a Twitter account, which he communicates on through the help of his family. Supporters of Ulbricht have launched a petition asking President Donald Trump for a pardon.