Two and a half years after his arrest, one of Silk Road’s suspected associates has been extradited to the United States for an upcoming trial in a federal court.
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Roger Thomas Clark, otherwise known as Variety Jones, VJ, Cimon and “plural of mongoose,” was first arrested in Thailand in 2015 following a joint operation which saw the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local authorities in Thailand working together on the investigation.
Clark is famously regarded as the right-hand man of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht and is believed to have been involved with and/or influenced several of Ulbricht’s illicit dealings.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice, the 56-year-old Canadian could spend a minimum of 10 years in jail and a maximum of life imprisonment for charges related to money laundering and narcotics trafficking.
Clark’s Influence on Ross Ulbricht
Ulbricht first met Clark on the now-defunct site, and as he wrote, he found him to be a strong-willed character suitable enough to be a mentor for himself.
Clark’s role in running the operation was significant. According to federal prosecutors, he was paid in the hundreds of thousands to aid Ulbricht in running the illegal operation.
His influence on the young founder was significant, so much so that he had a hand in many of the illegal activities Ulbricht is serving life imprisonment for.
It is said that Clark provided advice on how to grow profits and, chillingly, how to get rid of obstacles using threats and violence.
He is also responsible for coining the rather clever screen name “Dread Pirate Roberts” which led people to think that the Silk Road administration comprised of a group of individuals rather than a single admin.
After Silk Road was brought down in 2013, Clark’s presence on the dark web dwindled considerably; that is until he posted on a cannabis forum using the moniker Variety Jones.
In his post, he described how he had been hunted down by a crooked federal agent who had been asking for his assistance in finding the key to a virtual wallet containing over a million dollars’ worth of Bitcoin left over from the Silk Road era.
During this time, he even contemplated turning himself in for his safety, he said. An apparent cannabis connoisseur, Clark is recorded to have posted extensively on Silk Road forums about his 2,500 strains of marijuana seeds stashed in his vault.
This led to the officials making the connection between him and an infamous marijuana seed vendor based in the U.K. Over 300 posts written under his Variety Jones screen name attested to his dealings in cannabis.
FBI agents, after investigations, have denied the involvement of any corrupt officers in Clark’s case. A lack of supporting evidence ultimately relegated Clark’s story to the rumor column.
Clark’s Involvement with an Attempted Murder
Over the short lifespan of the operation, Clark is believed to have had a say in several of the actions executed by the Silk Road founder.
To evade arrest and prosecution, Clark proposed that Ulbricht should attain citizenship outside of the U.S. to better shield himself from law enforcement.
Although he proposed the Dominican Republic, Ulbricht never got around to doing it.
Clark was even prepared with a contingency plan for Ulbricht should he have found himself behind bars at some point (which, ultimately, he did).
He strongly advised him to invest in a helicopter transport agency, saying that one or two of the helicopters would have come in handy when busting him out of jail.
But it was his nudging of Ulbricht to commit murder that gradually turned the tables on the entire operation.
Ulbricht, like many times before, had sought Clark’s advice when he learned that one of his employees, Curtis Green, had been dipping into a Bitcoin wallet without his knowledge.
In response, Clark offered to hire the services of a hitman to help take care of his problem.
Ultimately, the hit order came through one of their undercover agents, who promptly faked the murder and sent pictures to the duped duo. The rest, as they say, is history.
Clark has now been extradited to the U.S. where he is awaiting trial. Ulbricht’s mentor, confidant, employee, business partner, get-out-of-jail card and alleged partner in crime, could soon face up to 30 years in prison for his involvement in the infamous fallen darknet marketplace.