The Manhattan US Attorney has announced the successful extradition of Canadian citizen Roger Thomas Clark from Thailand to face prosecution over his alleged role in the running of the now-defunct Silk Road darknet website which facilitated transactions of illegal drugs and weapons using Bitcoin.
Operating from January 2011 to October 2013 when founder Ross Ulbricht was apprehended, Silk Road infamously served as an online black market for illegal and controlled substances, unregistered weapons, stolen goods and illicit substances. It is estimated to have provided illegal products and services to more than 100,000 buyers, using bitcoin to launder hundreds of millions of dollars.
Clark is accused of serving as Ulbricht’s right-hand man, providing strategic guidance and overseeing some aspects of the platform’s operations under the pseudonyms “Variety Jones,” “Cimon” and “Plural of Mongoose.” According to the unsealed indictment, Clark’s role in the illegal platform included trafficking of narcotics and money laundering.
A memoir written by Ulbricht who is now serving a life sentence in a US prison described Clark as his right-hand man who helped him come up with solutions for evading law enforcement, keeping his identity secret and even silencing compromised associates through murder.
A statement from Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman noted:
“Silk Road was a secret online marketplace for illegal drugs, hacking services, and a whole host of other criminal activity. Roger Thomas Clark allegedly served as a trusted confidante to Silk Road founder and operator Ross Ulbricht, advising him on all aspects of this illegal business, including how to maximize profits and use threats of violence to thwart law enforcement.”
In 2015, Clark was arrested by local police in Thailand, where has been held in a Bangkok prison while the extradition process found its way through the Thai justice system. A 2013 interview from Thai prison revealed that he was confident the extradition would never happen because his data encryption and security countermeasures ensured that no direct evidence was captured from his computer devices.
Law enforcement thus had no evidence apart from Ulbricht’s testimony, and that he believed, gave him a much stronger position than Ulbricht who was seized in a San Francisco public library with incriminating evidence still visible on the laptop he used to run Silk Road.
When he faces trial in the US, the list of charges against 56-year-old Clark includes narcotics trafficking conspiracy, distributing narcotics using the internet, conspiracy to commit, and aid and abet, a computer hacking conspiracy, conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identification documents, and money laundering conspiracy.
If he is found guilty on these charges, he could get away with a 10-year prison sentence, though in reality he would likely be seen as too much of a security risk to receive anything less than a life sentence.
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