Posted by: Allen Hoffmann, JD
April 9, 2015
Today, we’re taking a good look at the latest twist in the Silk Road saga; the allegation that two feds involved in the investigation, when they weren’t working on busting people, were busy abusing their positions of power just about as far as would be possible. Cue gigantic shitstorm.
The complaint charges theft of government property, wire fraud, money laundering, and, in what I would call one of the greatest understatements in living memory, ‘conflict of interest’.
The Baltimore taskforce was a second string to the SR bow.
Whilst its not news that there were multiple probes running into Silk Road, the Baltimore Silk Road Taskforce running separate to the lead (and well known) Southern District of NY investigation hasn’t had as much coverage as its NY big brother; previous court filings and the Silk Road trial itself did suggest that the majority of undercover buys intended to secure probable cause on multiple Silk Road vendors were ending up in NY, and indeed, the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht recently was the product of the New York investigative effort, rather than that of Baltimore.
What we now seem to see is that part of Baltimore’s tasking was to establish other lines of undercover communication with DPR directly – what those lines are, in my personal opinion, likely were the ‘fake murder for hire’ angles which I have previously canvassed, which ran parallel (and very much separately) to the New York drug investigation, such are the jurisdictional pissing contests within the U.S. justice system at a federal level. Were they let off the chain just a little by their supervising officers? It certainly looks that way.
As it goes, the parallel nature of the investigations has, to an extent, proven the undoing of one of the corrupt feds – the NY investigation’s successful imaging of the server found correspondence in the private message system which undermined a claim by the crooked DEA agent that no money had been paid by DPR.
Infiltration of inner sanctum a priority
The Baltimore investigation concentrated more on the fictitious ‘murder for hire’ matters which came as a result of one of DPR’s employees being turned informant after he was set up following on from DPR playing matchmaker – we’re all well aware of the faked torture and murder session which was documented and shown to DPR by this stage. This was the brainchild of Baltimore. The taskforce was aimed at insinuating itself in DPR’s inner circle through the use of fictitious, corrupt US Government employees, supposedly supplying counter intelligence information. I’m sure the irony is not lost on anyone at this point, but let me make my thoughts on this crystal clear; when your lead investigator is accused of wholesale misconduct, abuse of office, and considered, calculated corruption to the extent that Mr. Force is currently being alleged to have engaged in, your case is dead and buried. But the really interesting thing is, if it hadn’t been for the corruption of a US Secret Service Special Agent, the ‘pretend hit’ would never have happened. That’s right – the crowning achievement of the taskforce was initiated by thefts perpetrated by one of its members
Calculated and concerted corruption, rather than opportunism.
Let’s get the dull but sophisticated part out of the way first – the documents list Force as using “Engedi, LLC” in Maryland, and Bridges as using “Quantum International Invements, LLC” as components of their laundering and obscuring tactics, with Force bouncing money around Panama and elsewhere. When you think of Baltimore, corruptions, and cops, what do you think of? Probably “The Wire”, where we occasionally see fictitious police contemplate, or engage in, some opportunistic ‘taxation without representation’, perhaps during a warrant. What was happening in the Baltimore Silk Road Taskforce, if proven, was not someone pocketing a few stacks of hard cash when flipping a stash house; it was a pre-mediated, ongoing and predatory enterprise, with federal agents abusing their positions in a multitude of ways. Its that blurring of purpose and intent which becomes characteristic in the complaint against Force and his alleged co conspirator which makes it so damning. They were professionals. They acted together. And their hubris as to just how much can be pulled from the blockchain has been the downfall of both.