Last Monday, the FBI arrested Ryan Kelly Chamberlain II, a San Francisco-based public relations consultant. In a recently unsealed affidavit, the FBI says Chamberlain allegedly bought "biological agents and lethal toxins" on a darknet site known as Black Market Reloaded, which is similar to Silk Road.
Chamberlain, a former field organizer for Gavin Newsom, worked as a communications director at a number of companies. The San Francisco Examiner says the agency was not looking for components of a bomb when they searched his home in Russian Hill:
According to the search warrant, the FBI had been led to his home after a series of tips and arrests because of his alleged use of anonymous sites to purchase abrin and pure nicotine, both lethal toxins.
CBSLocal also quotes from a search warrant application written by FBI special agent Michael Eldridge:
He alleged, "The investigation has revealed that Chamberlain has utilized an anonymous, Internet-based market place known as Black Market Reloaded to facility the unlawful acquisition and possession of biological agents and lethal toxins in California and Florida."
An earlier affidavit [embedded below] says that Chamberlain admitted to accessing the darknet or "deep web" when he was questioned by an FBI Special Agent at a coffee shop near his home:
Chamberlain appears to have written a goodbye note [embedded below], using Hootsuite to time-delay posting the message on iCloud. The three-page letter said: "now it's live, which means I wasn't around to stop it from posting." In it, Chamberlain wrote about his issues with depression and struggles with his family. He also went into detail about not seeing a financial reward from his involvement with Project Sport, a San Francisco-based sports marketing and event management startup:
Third, my oldest friend in the City...my best friend...pulled my world out from under me. I'd been giving anything of myself I could for Project Sport, trying to build something great together with a "family" of my own. We ﬁnally made it. Something we created was sold for over $1 million...but I saw none of it. None of us who dedicated ourselves to its success did. We worked for cheap or free, we put our hearts into it. But when the success came, it never left the top of the ladder. But okay...I get it...instead of rewarding the people who got you here, we'll use that money to start a company...we're going to make this real: The Project Sport Family. Then ﬁve months into it I was cut out. Even then, I let myself believe we'd just hit a rough patch, and I agree'd to play the loyal chump and keep giving to it, even without pay. I believed the "Family" rhetoric, that my team would be ﬁghting for me and for the project. In truth, I was still being pushed out, only slower. My ability to make any contibution was marginalized, I was useless, and I was gone.
Any of these are things are just life though. A person should be able deal with this. People deal with cancer, or they go to war. This should be do-able. Stop whining. But all of this at once, for the umpteenth time in my life — really, this is happening AGAIN?!? — at the hands of the people who mattered to me the most...this betrayal, abandonment, isolation and lonliness. I couldn't take it this time. I already had a tendency to slip into depression; this one hit me hard.
Chamberlain denied the FBI's allegations on Twitter last week, claiming that a "panicked update" to the letter should have been published.
A panicked update to my letter that should have posted by now. Nothing they're reporting is true. No "stashes." Not "armed and...
— Ryan Chamberlain (@poliholic) June 2, 2014
In the letter, Chamberlain describes himself as a "40+ years old with a random patchwork of a resume." The biography on his About.me page seems similarly erratic.
Communications hack. Social-Media-ist since "social" was over here and "media" was over there. SF politial junkie and oft-times operative. Save-the-world type. Early-adopter geek wannabe. Cheerleader for running and pro-cycling. Mouthpiece for movie-music. Starter-upper. Die-hard Giant.
To contact the author of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Image via About.me]