December 5, 2015 / 12:18 AM / 3 years ago

Suspected adviser to Silk Road creator arrested - U.S. prosecutors

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Canadian man has been arrested in Thailand for his alleged role as a senior adviser to the creator of Silk Road, an online black market where illegal drugs and other goods were sold, U.S. prosecutors announced on Friday.

Roger Thomas Clark, who authorities said went by the online moniker “Variety Jones,” was arrested on Thursday to face extradition on U.S. charges stemming from his role in helping Ross Ulbricht, Silk Road’s convicted creator.

Prosecutors said Clark, 54, was described by Ulbricht as a trusted “mentor” who regularly advised him on the management of Silk Road, a website that allowed users to anonymously buy drugs using the virtual currency bitcoin.

He faces up to life in prison based on charges of narcotics conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy contained in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.

A lawyer for Clark could not be identified.

Silk Road operated for more than two years, allowing users to buy drugs and other illicit goods and generating $213 million in sales in the process, prosecutors said.

The website, which relied on the Tor network, was seized by U.S. authorities in 2013 as they arrested Ulbricht, Silk Road’s admitted creator who prosecutors said operated it under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced in May to life in prison after a federal jury in Manhattan found him guilty on charges including distributing narcotics.

According to the complaint, Clark began advising Ulbricht in 2011. In a digital journal, Ulbricht said Variety Jones advised him on many technical aspects of the website during its initial year, the complaint said.

“He’s been a real mentor,” Ulbricht wrote, according to the complaint.

Clark also suggested Ulbricht adopt the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, an alias borrowed from a character in the 1987 movie “The Princess Bride,” the complaint said.

Prosecutors said Clark also helped Ulbricht develop rules governing Silk Road’s vendors and users and advised him on how to conceal his involvement with the website and on tactics to thwart law enforcement investigations.

For his efforts, Clark, who also went by “VJ,” “Cimon,” and “Plural of Mongoose,” was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said.

The case is U.S. v. Clark, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-mj-1335.

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