Over two years after arresting Silk Road's mastermind, Ross Ulbricht, police have now arrested his confidant, Roger Thomas Clark, in Thailand, the U.S. Justice Department announced.
Clark, a Canadian national, who went under the alias "Variety Jones," served as "a trusted confidant to Silk Road Founder and Operator Ross Ulbricht, advising him on all aspects of this illegal business, including how to maximize profits and use threats of violence to thwart law enforcement," noted Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a press release.
The arrest of 54-year-old Clark came through a joint operation of the Royal Thai police, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Drug Enforcement Administration. Clark was thought to have been residing in Thailand to keep out of the reach of American authorities, but now he is awaiting extradition to the United States.
Clark is being charged with one count of narcotics conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum sentence of 10 years, and one count of money laundering conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
"The arrest of Roger Thomas Clark shows again that conducting criminal activities on the Dark Web does not keep a criminal out of law enforcement’s reach," said FBI Assistant Director Diego Rodriguez. “As alleged, Clark was paid at least hundreds of thousands of dollars to act as a counselor to Ross Ulbricht’s black market bazaar, Silk Road."
Clark, who also went by "Plural of Mongoose" and "Cimon," according to a newly unsealed federal complaint, was described by Ulbricht in a journal entry as "the biggest and strongest-willed character I had met through the site thus far. He quickly proved to me that he had value by pointing out a major security hole in the site I was unaware of."
“He has helped me better interact with the community around Silk Road, delivering proclamations, handling troublesome characters, running a sale, changing my name, devising rules and on and on. He also helped me get my head straight regarding legal protection, cover stories, devising a will, finding a successor and so on. He’s been a real mentor,” he wrote.
According to a review of the 31-year-old's journal, Clark advised him on changing his name on Silk Road from "Admin" to "Dread Pirate Roberts," a pseudonym inspired by a character in the 1987 film "The Princess Bride," which would carry his legacy after he stepped down and someone else took his place.
In June this year, Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest and is now appealing his life sentence. "I never sought to create a site that would provide an avenue for people to feed their addictions. Had I been more mature, or more patient or even more worldly then, I would have done things differently,” he wrote in a letter of appeal for sympathy before the sentencing.