Roger Thomas Clark, the Canadian national who is alleged to have been a key personality in the growth and development of the Silk Road drug-dealing website arrived in New York Friday after being extradited from Thailand. He was arrested roughly two and a half years ago in the Asian country.
The charges that Clark will face in the United States are related to his connections with the founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht. Clark, 56, is believed to have been Ulbricht’s number two. Ulbricht is at the moment on a life sentence with no possibility of parole at the United States Penitentiary Florence High in Colorado after being sentenced in May 2015.
Silk Road’s Chief Operating Officer in all but name
According to the unsealed indictment charges Clark went by various pseudonyms including ‘Variety Jones’, ‘VJ’, ‘Plural of Mongoose’ and ‘Cimon’ while serving as the senior adviser to Ulbricht who also used the pseudonym ‘Dead Pirate Roberts’. Clark is alleged to have advised Ulbricht regarding the operations of Silk Road ranging from hiring and managing computer programmers to offering advice on how to thwart law enforcement.
After his arrest in Thailand on December 3, 2015, Clark expressed confidence in an interview with Ars Technica that there was no evidence against him since only an encrypted laptop had been seized. That could all change however if authorities can link him with the pseudonyms he allegedly used in his communications with Ulbricht. Federal authorities are already in possession of a journal that Ulbricht kept. In one journal entry, for instance, Ulbricht described Variety Jones as a ‘real mentor’.
“CLARK – who went by the online nicknames “Variety Jones,” “VJ,” “Cimon,” and “Plural of Mongoose” – was described by Ulbricht as a “real mentor” who advised Ulbricht about, among other things, security vulnerabilities in the Silk Road site, technical infrastructure, management of the Silk Road users, and operating in a manner to attempt to thwart law enforcement,” read the extradition statement.
The brains behind the criminal enterprise
Ulbricht also disclosed in his journal entry that Variety Jones also served as his fixer and this was with regards to delivering proclamations and handling troublesome users of the online drug-dealing website. As an advisor Ulbricht relied on Variety Jones to guide him in devising rules for the Silk Road community, finding a successor, drawing a will and coming up with ways of thwarting law enforcement.
According to IM chats obtained by federal authorities, the Dead Pirate Roberts pseudonym was suggested to Ulbricht by Variety Jones and the Silk Road founder began using it in early 2012 (Silk Road started operating in January 2011). This was in a bid to cover his tracks since Ulbricht had disclosed he was running Silk Road to a college friend as well as an ex-girlfriend.
It also emerged from the Ulbricht trial which concluded in February 2015 that Variety Jones had suggested that Curtis Clark Green, a former Silk Road employee who had been suspected of stealing Bitcoins from the site, be killed. Green was never killed though as the Drug Enforcement Administration faked his death as he was a cooperating witness at the time.
In the event of conviction, the minimum sentence that Clark could face is 10 years behind bars.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
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