The alleged senior adviser to convicted Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht has been arrested in Thailand and is awaiting extradition to the US for trial.
The US Department of Justice unsealed charges of narcotics conspiracy and money laundering against Roger Thomas Clark a.k.a. “Variety Jones” on Friday. The accused allegedly advised Ulbricht on a wide variety of matters pertaining to Silk Road’s operation. He allegedly received at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation.
Silk Road was “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet,” according to DoJ, facilitating a flourishing economy of trade in drugs and other illegal contraband.
The announcement mentioned how Bitcoin played a key role in the site: “Silk Road also included a Bitcoin-based payment system that served to facilitate the illegal commerce conducted on the site, including by concealing the identities and locations of the users transmitting and receiving funds through the site.”
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Clark advised Ulbricht on ways of thwarting law enforcement against the site, which operated on the dark net in an effort to evade authorities.
“As this arrest proves, the ‘long arm of the law’ has a great reach – even in cyberspace. Our HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) special agents continue to work closely with our federal and international law enforcement partners around the world to patrol the darknet and protect public safety,” declared HSI Chicago Acting Special Agent-in-Charge James M. Gibbons.
Clark also allegedly advised on how to threaten Silk Road employees and others with violence in order to intimidate them from revealing the enterprise. “In one such conversation, in which CLARK and Ulbricht discussed ‘track[ing] down’ a certain Silk Road employee to ensure that he had not gone ‘[o]ff the rails,’ CLARK commented, ‘[D]ude, we’re criminal drug dealers – what line shouldn’t we cross?,’ said DoJ.
Ulbricht, who was sentenced to life in prison in May, is separately facing murder-for-hire charges in the State of Maryland. The accusations were used by prosecutors in this year’s trial to prove the extent to which Ulbricht was willing to protect his enterprise.
DoJ noted that the maximum sentence for narcotics conspiracy is life in prison, and for money laundering, 20 years in prison.