The alleged architect of darknet marketplace Silk Road, Roger Thomas Clark, was arrested in Thailand last week and is awaiting extradition to the United States.
Clark, who is said to have used the handle Variety Jones, is a 54-year-old Canadian citizen. He is charged with narcotics and money laundering conspiracy.
Variety Jones was described as a "mentor" by Ross Ulbricht, the operator of Silk Road who was sentenced to life in prison without parole in May.
The arrest comes after an investigation by journalist Joseph Cox, which suggested that Variety Jones, along with an architect who went by the handle "Smed" appeared to be "a real driving force" behind Silk Road's operations, despite Ulbricht remaining the nominal head.
According to the US Department of Justice, Clark "counseled Ulbricht on the improvement and expansion of Silk Road's technical infrastructure, including helping Ulbricht hire and manage a computer programmer to assist with these projects."
Clark is also alleged to have helped Ulbricht evade investigative efforts into Silk Road, "repeatedly advocat[ing] the use of intimidation and violence to keep members of the Silk Road support staff from cooperating with law enforcement."
According to the US DoJ press release:
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?”
Clark was paid "at least hundreds of thousands of dollars for his assistance in operating Silk Road" according to the FBI's allegations.
Preet Bharara, the Manhattan US Attorney, said: "Like a consigliere, Roger Thomas Clark allegedly served as a trusted confidante 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."
Of the charges against Clark, narcotics conspiracy carries a maximum life sentence and a mandatory minimum of 10 years, while money laundering conspiracy carries a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. ®