A California man admitted to operating a spinoff version of the shuttered Silk Road website, which enabled more than 100,000 people to buy and sell illegal drugs over the Internet, a prosecutor said Thursday. Blake Benthall, 26, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with "Internet Better" on the back, appeared in federal court in San Francisco after his Wednesday arrest. He faced several charges, including conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking, which carries a potential life sentence and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Haun told U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley that Benthall was a danger to the community and should be held without bail after he waived his rights and "did admit to everything," including running the copycat website known as Silk Road 2.0. Calling Benthall a "severe flight risk" who had acquired fake identify documents, Haun said investigators found $100,000 in cash in his apartment after he earned $400,000 in monthly commissions on $8 million monthly revenue since December. Corley ordered Benthall returned to a federal lockup until a bail hearing Friday. Benthall's attorney, Daniel Blank, declined to comment except to say the issue of bail must be resolved.
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