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Alleged top Silk Road adviser extradited to US to face charges

Alleged top Silk Road adviser extradited to US to face charges


Variety Jones has been in a Thai prison since 2015

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Silk Road has been defunct for nearly five years after Ross Ulbricht, who founded the dark web staple, was apprehended, arrested, and given a life prison sentence without parole. Now, the US courts have caught up with Roger Clark, Ulbricht’s alleged mentor, adviser, and confidant in all things related to the dark web marketplace. This past Friday, the US Attorney’s office announced Clark’s extradition to the United States to face newly unsealed charges for his role in Silk Road’s operation.

The indictment states that Clark (also known as “Variety Jones,” “VJ,” and “Cimon”) was a “real mentor” to Ulbricht over the course of Silk Road’s operation, and he ran much of the back end of the site. He allegedly hired programmers to maintain and speed up the site, maintained and created rules for the Silk Road community that were meant to inform Ulbricht about the site’s security vulnerabilities, and collected intel on local law enforcement’s efforts to thwart the site, among other things.

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Clark is also charged with a slew of conspiratorial charges, including narcotics trafficking and money laundering. If convicted, he faces 10 years to life in prison. Clark was arrested and detained by Thai police nearly three years ago. When a reporter for Ars Technica interviewed him there in 2016, he bragged that the Thai police only seized his closed and encrypted laptops, and they could spend decades trying to decrypt those hard drives. He claimed that until they did, they’d have no hard and fast evidence of his crimes.

“They don’t have shit on me,” he said at the time. “I’m not going [to the US]. It’s an impossible circumstance.”