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Silk Road’s top lieutenant gets 20 years behind bars

Silk Road’s top lieutenant gets 20 years behind bars


A decade after the Silk Road was ripped up, infamous online drug dealer Variety Jones will go to prison.

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A matrix of green binary code flows down in the background of a laptop computer with a green-hued image of the US Capitol building
Illustration by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Silk Road was once synonymous with online “dark web” criminal activity, and today, its number two organizer, Roger Thomas Clark, aka Variety Jones, was sentenced to 20 years. Clark’s sentence was, according to Wired, the maximum he could have faced as part of his plea deal.

Clark was extradited to the US from Thailand almost five years ago and, before that, had served almost three years in detention in Thailand. According to the US Attorney’s Office of New York’s Southern District, he was accused of “conspiring to distribute massive quantities of narcotics.” At the time of extradition, Clark gloated that there was no hard evidence against him and that being sent to the US would be “an impossible circumstance.”

Authorities said Clark served as Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht’s advisor across the board when it came to the internet drug marketplace’s operations and that he goaded Ulbricht to hire a hitman to murder someone for $80,000. In addition to his sentencing in the US, the 61-year-old Clark was sentenced to “three years of supervised release” and surrendered more than $1.6 million.

Ulbricht described Clark as a “real mentor” to him, as Clark helped beef up and run the site’s backend operations and worked to thwart efforts by law enforcement to shut down the site. Ulbricht was given a life sentence without parole.

Silk Road was active from February 2011 until it was shut down in October 2013.