ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.
Silkroad was, and still is in one form, an online black market. Silkroad dealt primarily in selling illegal drugs and was run and managed in such a way that it was possible to browse and purchase as an anonymous user, with high security measures put in place so as to limit traffic monitoring and spying. Many know of its founder Ross William Ulbricht, a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts, but less is known about his two secret employees, Variety Jones and Smed.
What Was Silkroad?
Silkroad was originally founded in February 2011, and derived its name from an old historical network of trade routes used between many countries including China, India and many European countries during the Han Dynasty. Many drug dealers and users would securely search the Silkroad website in order to buy and sell their illegal goods. Dread Pirate Roberts was the operator of Silkroad, a pseudonym derived from a character in the novel and movie The Princess Bride. Once public awareness of the Silkroad market grew, arrests and trials began emerging for many users and operators and eventually Ross William Ulbricht himself was arrested in October 2013. The Silkroad website was closed down, but since then other versions have emerged.
The Other Players
Of course it would have been an overwhelming job to operate and control the online drug market Silkroad all by himself as popularity and users grew, and so Dread Pirate Roberts hired a minimal team to support him. These would range from forum moderators to market administrators, and over the years most of these have now been apprehended. However, the two most important cogs in this well-oiled machine have never been publicly revealed.
Variety Jones was a member of Silkroad since 2011, and dealt primarily in the selling of marijuana. Behind the scenes, however, it was revealed that he had a much more sinister role, according to Ulbricht as both a financial advisor and a mentor. It was even revealed that Variety was the one who suggested both the infamous pseudonym and Ulbricht’s first murder-for-hire attempt (however, no murder actually occurred). Variety Jones and another known as Smedley or Smed were revealed to be the driving force behind the business, discussing future ideas and projects without the involvement of Ulbricht at all.
The user known as Smedley began working on Silkroad at the beginning of 2012 and was hired for his coding abilities. He meticulously developed the infrastructure and was in talks with Variety jones to develop both an encrypted email network and service, and also implementing a bitcoin system for a more cryptic form of payment. In other words, it would appear that Variety Jones was the brain of the operation, working with Ulbricht to develop Silkroad into something much larger and more profitable, while Smed used his skills to develop their vision.
So as you can see, despite Ulbricht (Dread Pirate Roberts) receiving all of the publicity and responsibility for Silkroad and its operations, there were two other very important characters at work. Many attempts to trace these two figures have been made and speculation has been made as to their identities, but the FBI and DEA have never made an official statement regarding their identities and current whereabouts.