The Bizarre Schemes of the Silk Road Investigator Who Broke Bad 

By Kate Knibbs on at

Two former US federal agents affidavit from a fellow officer paints a picture of a 15-year DEA veteran, Carl Mark Force IV, breaking bad in such an over-the-top fashion that it's hard to believe this isn't a twisted TV plot.

Let's take a stroll through some of the most outlandish alleged crimes; the corruption and abuse of power here is so extensive is almost impressive. You can't write this stuff. Of course, since the affidavit is from a former co-worker and none of the charges have been proven, take this whole over-the-top corruption narrative with a grain of salt (or, I guess, a grain of cocaine, if you really want to get into the spirit of things).

According to the complaint, Force used several fake personas to talk to the Dread Pirate Roberts without telling his DEA co-workers, including an account called "French Maid". The complaint says that as "French Maid," Force convinced DPR to pay him $100,000 for information about the ongoing criminal investigation into the Silk Road. Then he stole bitcoin from the government after selling fake information about the investigation to DPR.

Now, Force was authorised to trick DPR, but only using the persona "Nob". As Nob, Force convinced DPR he was a drug smuggler as part of the official investigation into Silk Road. (And it was Force, as Nob, who arranged the fake murder-for-hire of another Silk Road vendor by convincing DPR that he had hitman connections.)

"Nob" told DPR that there was a fictional corrupt DOJ agent named "Kevin" who was supposedly feeding him information about the investigation. DPR paid "Nob" roughly $90,000 in two bitcoin payments for the fake information. At that point, the bitcoin that Force received as an undercover DEA agent legally belonged to the government. Instead, he deposited most of it into personal accounts.

It doesn't end there. Force then allegedly convinced DPR that "Kevin" wanted more money, and asked for 525 bitcoin. The complaint suggests he hid the fake "Kevin" extortion from the government, using blockchain evidence to trace the bitcoin from DPR to Force. (Literally the only thing acceptable about this entire scam is that "Kevin" is a VERY good fake cop name, so tiny little props for that.)

With the new influx of digital currency, the renegade federal agent allegedly invested in a bitcoin exchange, CoinMKT, and used his DEA contacts to run unauthorised background checks for the company, then "allowed himself to be listed as CoinMKT's anti-money laundering and/or compliance officer," according to the complaint. He then stole nearly $300,000 from a CoinMKT client by convincing CoinMKT that the client was doing something shady.

So a federal agent tasked with taking down an elaborate bitcoin-fuelled digital criminal enterprise basically concocted his own bitcoin-fuelled digital criminal enterprise side hustle, if the affidavit is correct.

But wait, there's more: to launder all the stolen money, Force allegedly tricked Venmo into unfreezing his account, which was frozen due to suspicious activity, by sending them a subpoena, using his supervisor's stamp, according to the complaint. And to put a nice poetic bow on the whole affair, the agent then allegedly used the stolen money to start a cryptocurrency speculation company.

Apart from being a wild story, what does it all mean for Silk Road trial? Quite possibly nothing. Since the undercover agent's corrupt work as part of the Baltimore taskforce was separate from the New York investigation into Silk Road that eventually ended with a conviction, it's not clear if Ulbricht will be able to directly point to the extravagant criminal activity as an undercover agent as evidence that the investigations into Silk Road were compromised in his bid for a retrial. But this is one juicy reminder that the line between cop and criminal is often blurred to the point of non-existence.

You can read the whole berserk affidavit here:

Criminal Complaint Force Against Bridges and Force

Top image: screenshot from complaint evidence