Special Agent Force, Alpacino and me

Posted: April 2, 2015 in Silk Road
Tags: , , ,

Given the readership of my blog has likely devoured the story of the awesomely-named Carl Mark Force IV and his colleague Detective Bridge (you couldn’t make these names up), I won’t rehash it here. Just want to share one of those “didn’t seem significant at the time” stories.

Alpacino told DPR stuff, who told somebody else, who told me...

Alpacino told DPR stuff, who told somebody else, who told me…

In case you need to refresh yourself on the story, the most easily digestible is Sarah Jeong’s pieces in Forbes and the always-awesome Gwern’s take on it at Reddit, which also provides handy links to all the new official documents. Put them on your Kindle for some Easter holiday reading (along with a copy of, Silk Road book, of course – read about the rise and fall of Silk Road written in real time, as it happened by someone who was there /plug). They are as good as any crime novel.

There is too much for me to provide my take on different aspects of the new documents here, but if you are interested in my opinion on any particular bits, please let me know in the comments. I’m away camping for the Easter break though, so may not respond until my return.

What I want to share is an email I received in December 2013. It is encrypted to a key I lost ages ago, so it’s rendered gobbledygook now. However, I remember the gist of it and I did find a note to myself that I wrote when I was contemplating using it in my book:

Received an encrypted note from an anonymous Silk Road member claiming dirty cops were working on the inside. ‘What if I told you DPR had a federal agent on his payroll… who was feeding him information about vendors who were being surveilled or were about to be busted. He saved quite a few vendors’ asses,’ the message said. It went on to name some prominent vendors and incidents I could question them about as proof of the writer’s claims.

I didn’t chase either vendor and put it down to another crackpot claim.

The message said something along the lines of “ask M___ how DPR knew stuff that helped him not get busted. He won’t know how, but he will know what you are talking about”. It also suggested I ask S____ about “The Canadian Professor incident”.

In my defence, that was at the height of the shutdown hysteria and I got a lot of kooks sending me their so-called “intel” via Tormail and safe-mail and privnote and all manner of self-destructing Tor-based messaging programs and most of them led down endless, pointless rabbit holes. Plus the deadline for the first draft of my book was looming. I was busy, okay?

Of course, fast-forward to now and this particular kook turns out to not be a kook. The names and incidents (from the original Silk Road, though the mail came to me after the shutdown) cited in the mail to me match up with what we now know of “alpacino”. From the DPR Journal:

06/05/2013 – 09/11/2013

Haven’t been logging. Tried counter intel on DEA’s “mr wonderful” but led nowhere. tormail was busted by dea and all messages confiscated. “alpacino” from DEA has been leaking info to me. Helped me help a vendor avoid being busted.

And from one of the US Department of Justice’s submissions it seems that this guy was Special Agent Force:

SA Force is also being investigated for leaking investigative information to Ulbricht through a different Silk Road username – “alpacino” (or “albertpacino” or “pacino”). A file recovered from Ulbricht’s laptop titled “le_counter_intel” (i.e., “law enforcement counter intelligence”) contains extensive records of communications that appear under the heading “correspondence with alpacino.” The communications purport to be from someone claiming to be “in the perfect spot to play spy for Silk Road with the DEA.” Like the correspondence from “french maid,” these communications reflect inside knowledge of USAO-Baltimore’s investigation of Silk Road. Further evidence indicates that Ulbricht paid “alpacino” a salary of $500 per week to supply such information.

Though you have to wonder if SA Force was stealing hundreds of thousands in Bitcoin, why would he take a much greater risk for a measly $500 per week?

So there you have it. Someone leaked to me that someone was leaking LE information to DPR and I ignored it. I don’t have the faintest idea who sent me the message or how they came to know. However, it must have been someone on the inside and very few people, it seems, were aware that DPR had law enforcement on his payroll.

I wonder if it was Variety Jones? He and Mr Wonderful seem to be the only ones unaccounted for now.

  1. […] n.b. When “alpacino” made his first appearance at the trial of Ross Ulbricht, he was assumed to be Special Agent Force and his appearance validated an anonymous tip I’d dismissed as a crackpot about rogue LE feeding intel to DPR. […]

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