Carl Mark Force IV, former corrupt DEA agent pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of obstruction of justice, money laundering and extortion.
The list of charges is connected to Force’s time as an undercover DEA agent looking into Silk Road, the online drug marketplace.
As a federal investigator, Carl Mark Force IV spent two years looking into Silk Road and its founder, Ross Ulbricht.
Silk Road operated in the Deep Web. Its almost anonymity allowed users to purchase and sell drugs under the cover of heavy encryption and by using bitcoins. Since it was established, Silk Road was the place to be in the Deep Web for thousands of drug dealers. The earning of Silk Road were estimated at 215 million dollars by its closure in October 2013, when federal agents managed to take it down.
For Carl Mark Force IV, DEA undercover agent was interested in Silk Road and its founder, Ross Ulbricht. Perhaps too interested for his own good. Ross Ulbricht, working under the alias Dread Pirate Roberts was eventually convicted under drug charges and conspiracy and looks at a lifetime in prison.
In a Hollywood movie script manner, Force’s plea agreement coming on Wednesday confessed that the DEA agent had leveraged his position as investigator in the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force to exort Bitcoins from the Silk Road mastermind, Ulbricht under the alias ‘Nob’, as well as ‘French Maid’.
Assistant Attorney General, Caldwell state for the press:
“Seduced by the perceived anonymity of virtual currency and the dark web, Force used invented online personas and encrypted messaging to fraudulently obtain bitcoin worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government and investigative targets alike”.
Indeed, under the alias ‘Nob’, Force used his position as DEA investigator to leverage inside info on the Task Force in exchange for 925 Bitcoins, estimated to be worth nearly 100,000 dollars. Of course, the money was not turned over to the governmental agency.
Instead, it was safely tucked in Force’s bank account and a well designed scheme was set in place to cover the fact that the exchange has ever taken place.
Under the alias ‘French Maid’, Force received another similar sum in exchange for the another pack of info on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force.
Moreover, while holding the position of Chief Compliance Officer in the digital exchange service, Force admitted to have invested 110,000 dollars worth of Bitcoins in the online exchange CoinMKT, without the DEA ever being informed about it.
When Force was informed in February 2014 that a 337,000 dollars account was potentially victim to fraud, he ordered the account be frozen by CoinMKT and 300,000 dollars be transferred to his own bank account.
The reports however showed just 37,000 dollars were in the DEA account and those had been seized. An entire web of track covering actions ensued, but eventually failed.
What seems like a story fit for a movie script was one step away from really becoming one. Force had also signed a contract for 240,000 dollars with 20th Century Fox Film Studios that would have seen the screening of the Silk Road investigation through Force’s eyes. Once more, DEA was left in the dark.
The plea signed by Carl Mark Force confessed to all the charges brought against him and added:
“As A DEA Special Agent, I held a position of public trust and I abused that position”.
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