A man believed to be the Silk Road founder’s closest adviser has finally been arrested in Thailand.
In a statement published Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that Roger Thomas Clark, a man known online as “Variety Jones,” “VJ” and “Cimon” has been apprehended in Thailand. Clark is currently awaiting his extradition to the United States, where he will face charges and be officially sentenced.
“Clark may have thought residing in Thailand would keep him out of reach of U.S authorities, but our international partnerships have proven him wrong,” FBI Assistant Director Diego Rodriguez said in a statement published Friday. “We thank our law enforcement partners.”
Federal prosecutors believe the 54-year-old mastermind was paid “at least hundreds of thousands of dollars” to work alongside Ulbricht. The latest Silk Road announcement comes just six months after Silk Road founder, Ross William Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Shortly after Ulbricht’s sentencing, two corrupt Silk Road investigators pleaded guilty to blackmailing and extorting Ulbricht millions of dollars, denying him a fair trial and landing one of the agents only six years in prison.
During Silk Road’s investigation, prosecutors went through Ross’s computer and found an entry Ulbritch had written about Variety Jones back in 2011:
“This was 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 advised me on many technical aspect of what we are doing, helped me speed up the site and squeeze more out of my current servers. He also 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.”
Clark is facing charges of one count of narcotics conspiracy and one count of money laundering conspiracy. If found guilty, Clark could face up to 30 years in federal prison. Prosecutors were able to unseal the criminal case filed nearly 6 months ago.
How Mastermind Clark was Caught
Clark was identified by American police after a scan of his Canadian passport was found among Ulbricht’s trove of scanned identification documents on Silk Road staffers that he stored on his laptop, which was seized in a San Francisco library where Ulbritcht was arrested in October 2013.
Additionally, in an affidavit, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Special Agent Gary Alford wrote that once they were able to obtain Clark’s passport they were able to identify it had been issued in the United Kingdom. Upon further investigation they discovered that the same name was listed as a director of a British Company called “Gypsy Nirvana.” Business records confirmed that the person was also named Roger Thomas Clark, an individual with the same nationality and birthday.
Just a month prior to Clark’s arrest, a criminal complaint was issued and an independent researcher named La Moustache identified that Variety Jones was a long time established cannabis vendor named Plural of Mongoose, and proved so by provided British court documents identifying the name Thomas Clark.
An unnamed cooperating witness also confirmed that Clark and Variety Jones are the same person. The FBI did not explain how they were able to identify Clark or any circumstances regarding his untimely arrest.
Clark was of so much influence that he even suggested that Ulbricht order the murder of a Silk Road staffer that Ulbricht believed was stealing from the Silk Road marketplace.
“As a side note, at what point in time do we decide we’ve had enough of someones shit, and terminate them?,” Clark, going as Cimon at the time, questioned Ulbricht. “Like, does impersonating a vendor to rip off a mid-level drug lord, using our rep and system; follows up by stealing from our vendors and clients and breeding fear and mis-trust, does that come close in yer opinion?”
“Terminate?” asked Ulbricht, known as Dread Pirate Roberts at the time. “Execute?”
“Yeah, pretty much,” said Clark. “At what point in time is that the response. We’re playing with big money with serious people, and that’s the world they live in.”
It’s clear that Clark was a key player in the fundamental operations of the Silk Road, however we will find out as the case unravels.