Jeffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROGER THOMAS CLARK, a / c / Plural of Mongooses, a / c / a Variety Jones, a / c / a VJ, a / k / a “cimon,” pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a huge amount of drugs, a charge arising from his role as senior adviser to the owner and operator of the illegal Silk Road online black market. From 2011 to 2013, the Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other illegal sellers to distribute illegal drugs and other illegal goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from these illegal operations. Clark pleaded guilty to U.S. District Judge William Paul III.
Manhattan lawyer, USA Jeffrey S. Berman said: “The Silk Road was a secret online market for illegal drugs, hacking services and many other criminal activities. As he admitted today, Roger Thomas Clark was a central figure in helping guide the Silk Road and advocating violence to protect the site. Clark even went so far as to encourage and facilitate the attempted murder of an accomplice suspected of being stolen from the Silk Road. Clark’s arrest, extradition from Thailand and conviction should make it clear that the alleged anonymity of the dark web is not a shield against prosecution.”
In accordance with the statements contained in the substitute indictment, court documents, statements made in court, and evidence presented during the trial in 2015 over Ross Ulbricht, founder of the Silk Road:
Ulbricht created the Silk Road around January 2011, and also owned and operated an underground website until it was closed by law enforcement in October 2013. The Silk Road turned into the most complex and extensive criminal market on the Internet at that time, acting as an extensive black market bazaar where site users regularly bought and sold illegal goods and services, including illegal drugs of almost all kinds. During operation, the Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers and other illegal sellers to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illegal goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from these illegal transactions.
Silk Road allowed its users to buy and sell drugs and other illegal goods and services anonymously and out of the reach of law enforcement. The Silk Road was operated on the so-called Onion Router or Tor network, a special network of computers on the Internet distributed around the world, designed to hide the true IP addresses of computers on the network and thereby the identity of network users. Silk Road also included a Bitcoin-based payment system, which was used to facilitate the illegal trading carried out on the site, including by hiding the identity and location of users who transfer and receive funds through the site.
Clark, who used the online nicknames Variety Jones, VJ, Cimon, Plural of Mongoose, and Captain Sargeant, was described by Ulbricht as the “real mentor” who advised Ulbricht, among other things, the security vulnerabilities on Silk’s website ways, technical infrastructure, the rules that guided the users and sellers of the Silk Road, and the promotion of sales on the Silk Road, including the sale of drugs. Clark also gave Ulbricht tips on developing a cover story to give Ulbricht the impression of selling the Silk Road. CLARK also helped with the hiring of programmers to help improve infrastructure and support Silk Road. CLARK was also responsible for collecting information on law enforcement efforts to investigate the Silk Road. And Clark advised Ulbricht how to protect the Silk Road empire. For example, when a Silk Road employee was suspected of stealing $ 350,000 in bitcoins from the site, CLARK invited Ulbricht to charge Ulbricht with a contract kill. Ulbricht accepted this offer. (Ultimately, without the knowledge of both men, an attempted murder attempt on self-employment did no harm to the target.)
Clark was paid at least hundreds of thousands of dollars for his help in operating the Silk Road.
Clark, 56, a Canadian citizen, pleaded guilty to one count of a conspiracy to distribute drugs, which provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential punishment in this case is prescribed by Congress and is given here solely for educational purposes, since any punishment of the defendant will be determined by the judge.