20 years in prison for advice: how Variety Jones advised the Silk Road marketplace
The 61-year-old Canadian said he was both proud and ashamed of his involvement in the digital drug empire.
Roger Thomas Clark, a 61-year-old Canadian citizen known online as Variety Jones, advised Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht on all aspects of his operations, local prosecutors said. Ulbricht referred to Clark as his “real mentor” who inspired him and helped him “create a brand that people can trust”.
Clark previously served time in prison after being arrested in Thailand in 2015 and extradited to the US in 2018. Clark’s lawyer claimed that his client was subjected to maltreatment in a Thai prison and egregious medical negligence in a US prison. His hearing has been delayed several times due to the pandemic, limited access to legal materials, and injuries and illnesses sustained in prison.
Ross Ulbricht, 39, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, is already serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2015 for running Silk Road.
During its existence from 2011 to 2013, Silk Road was used by thousands of drug traffickers to distribute illegal substances and other illegal goods and services to more than 100,000 buyers and to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from these illegal transactions.
According to the prosecution, Clark told Ulbricht about weaknesses in the site’s security, the technical infrastructure, the rules that governed users and sellers of the platform, and the principles for promoting and selling drugs online.
Clarke also helped Ulbricht design a “cover” to give the appearance that Ulbricht had sold Silk Road. He also collected information to counter law enforcement efforts to investigate the enterprise.
In addition, Clark suggested that Ulbricht order the murder of one of his employees, which, however, was never committed, but Ulbricht paid the alleged hitman $ 80,000 for the job, believing it was done.
“Roger Thomas Clarke has been a central figure in helping the leadership of Silk Road and protecting this digital drug empire,” said Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney in charge.
Clark has stated that his work for Silk Road has always been motivated by the political belief that drugs should be legalized. He claimed that the hundreds of millions of dollars in shady drug deals he facilitated were comparatively safer than physical deals. In court, he said he was both proud and ashamed of his involvement with Silk Road.