It has been practically 5 years for the reason that FBI surrounded Ross Ulbricht within the science fiction part of a San Francisco library, arrested him, and grabbed the laptop computer from which he had run the darkish net drug bazaar often called the Silk Highway. Ulbricht went on trial in a New York courtroom, and is presently serving a life sentence with out parole. However the even now, the Silk Highway saga nonetheless hasn’t ended: Half a decade after Ulbricht’s arrest, his alleged advisor, mentor and right-hand man Roger Clark will lastly face a US court docket, too.
On Friday, the FBI, IRS, DHS, and prosecutors within the Southern District of New York introduced the extradition of 56-year-old Canadian man Roger Clark from a Thai jail cell to New York to face newly unsealed fees for his function in Silk Highway’s operation. The indictment accuses Clark, who allegedly glided by the pseudonyms Selection Jones, Cimon, and Plural of Mongoose in his function as Silk Highway’s consigliere, of crimes starting from narcotics trafficking to cash laundering. However even these fees do not seize the outsize function Clark is believed to have performed in constructing and managing the Silk Highway, from safety audits to advertising and marketing, and even reportedly encouraging Ulbricht to make use of violence to take care of his empire.
“As Ulbricht’s right-hand man, Roger Clark allegedly advised him of methods to thwart law enforcement during the operation of this illegal ploy, pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process,” writes FBI assistant director William Sweeney in a press assertion. “As we speak’s extradition of Roger Clark reveals that regardless of alleged makes an attempt to function underneath the radar, he was by no means out of our attain.”
‘As Ulbricht’s right-hand man, Roger Clark allegedly suggested him of strategies to thwart regulation enforcement in the course of the operation of this unlawful ploy.’
William Sweeney, FBI
Clark was arrested greater than two and a half years in the past by Thai police, and since been held in a Bangkok jail. When a reporter for Ars Technica interviewed him there in 2016, he claimed that police had discovered solely his encrypted laptops—not like Ulbricht, whose PC was seized earlier than he may shut the lid and allow its encryption—and that because of this, regulation enforcement had no proof towards him of any crimes. “They don’t have shit on me,” Clark said at the time. “I’m not going [to the US]. It’s an not possible circumstance.”
But when authorities can show that Clark is identical particular person as his alleged pseudonyms Selection Jones and Cimon, feds would have already got a mountain of proof towards him from their investigation into Ross Ulbricht, together with Ulbricht’s journal and huge logs of communications between Ulbricht and his prime advisor.
Actually, that advisor stood out as a dramatic character all through Ulbricht’s trial in early 2015. In a single 2011 entry of Ulbricht’s journal, he described Selection Jones as nothing lower than a “mentor” and the “the biggest and strongest willed character I had met through the site thus far.”
He has suggested me on many technical side[s] of what we’re doing,
helped me velocity up the location and squeeze extra out of my present
servers. He has helped me higher work together with the group round
Silk Highway, delivering proclamations, dealing with troublesome characters,
operating a sale, altering my identify, devising guidelines, and on and on. He
additionally helped me get my head straight relating to authorized safety, cowl
tales, devising a will, discovering a successor, and so forth.
It was even Selection Jones—or maybe, Clark—who invented the Dread Pirate Roberts deal with that Ulbricht would use on the Silk Highway beginning in early 2012. In an IM chat that surfaced in the course of the authentic Silk Highway trial, Ulbricht had advised Jones that he’d admitted to operating the location to his ex-girlfriend, and to a school buddy who’d helped him with the location’s programming. Selection Jones responded that the Dread Pirate Roberts identify would higher conceal Ulbricht’s id and create a way that, just like the fictional Dread Pirate Roberts within the Princess Bride e book and movie, the function was handed round by a rotating forged relatively than a single particular person. “Start the legend now,” Jones wrote within the chat. “Clear your old trail – to be honest, as tight as you play things, you are the weak link from those two [previous] contacts.”
The following yr, after Selection Jones had modified his identify on the Silk Highway to Cimon, he would even be the first to counsel that Ulbricht pay for the homicide of Curtis Clark Inexperienced, an arrested worker they believed had stolen bitcoins from the location and who they apprehensive may change into an informant. “Enough about the theft,” the renamed advisor says in a chat log with Ulbricht. “Tell me about the organ donor.” Quickly, he suggests killing Inexperienced extra explicitly. “As a side note, at what point in time do we decide we’ve had enough of someones shit, and terminate them?”
A couple of minutes later, the Dread Pirate Roberts agrees to have Inexperienced killed, and his prime advisor tells him he is made the correct determination. “You would have surprised me if you had balked at taking the step, of bluntly, killing Curtis for fucking up just a wee bit too badly,” Cimon, a.okay.a. Selection Jones, writes. “Also, if you had balked, I would have seriously re-considered our relationship.” (Actually, Inexperienced was by no means killed. As a substitute his homicide was faked by the Drug Enforcement Administration, for whom Inexperienced had already change into a cooperating witness.)
Friday’s unsealed indictment towards Clark, to be clear, makes no specific point out of that homicide plot. However the Division of Justice assertion that accompanies it does accuse Clark of teaching Ulbricht on find out how to “use threats of violence to thwart law enforcement.”
Except for his shut relationship with Ulbricht, Clark in his alleged function as Selection Jones may additionally have run his personal enterprise on the Silk Highway promoting marijuana seeds. However that very same character bragged to Ulbricht about years of expertise operating on-line drug operations, giving Ulbricht the sense that his advisor was a seasoned veteran of the narcotics commerce who’d lengthy stayed forward of the police. Collectively they mentioned the opportunity of a whole Silk Highway franchise, branching out properly past drug gross sales to different encrypted or black market providers. As Ulbricht wrote in his journal:
He has helped me see a bigger imaginative and prescient. A model that individuals can come to
belief and rally behind. Silk Highway chat, Silk Highway trade, Silk Highway
credit score union, Silk Highway market, Silk Highway every part! And it’s been
superb simply speaking to a man who’s so clever and in the identical
boat as me, to a sure diploma at the least.
With Clark’s extradition to a New York court docket, he and Ulbricht could also be in that boat collectively greater than ever.