Potentially facing two decades in jail for his illegal actions, 46-year-old Carl M. Force recently plead guilty to charges that included extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Formally an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Force is one of two agents that were charged with profiting from the Silk Road investigation during 2013. The other agent involved in the extortion plot, former secret service agent Shaun W. Bridges, will be pleading guilty to similar charges during August 2015. Details of that plea deal were announced during June 2015.
Speaking about Force’s plea deal, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said “While investigating the Silk Road, former agent Carl Force crossed the line from enforcing the law to breaking it, 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.”
According to details of the case, Force was working undercover when he siphoned off roughly $776,000 in Bitcoin from Ross William Ulbricht, the alleged owner of the Silk Road marketplace. Force used multiple online aliases to extort money from Ulbricht for personal gain. After Ulbricht was arrested during late 2013, details of the extortion became public as Ulbricht’s trial progressed. On May 29, 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in running Silk Road’s anonymous black market to facilitate drug deals, among other illegal activities.
In addition to extorting Bitcoin from Ulbricht on multiple occasions, Force also had an unauthorized deal in place with 20th Century Fox to help produce a film about the Silk Road marketplace. That deal would have netted Force just under a quarter of a million dollars, but he didn’t have approval of the DEA to advise on that film.
Force was a Special Agent with the DEA for 15 years prior to his arrest for extortion. His attorney claimed that Force suffered from anxiety and depression and told the judge “He had a stellar, 15-year career with the DEA except for this one blip.”