Mentor to Drug-Trafficking `Dread Pirate Roberts' Charged

  • Canadian Roger Thomas Clark awaits extradition from Thailand
  • Ross Ulbricht, serving life term, says Clark gave him `vision'

A Canadian man described as a mentor to Ross Ulbricht, the convicted operator of the illegal Silk Road online marketplace, was arrested and charged with conspiring to traffic drugs.

Roger Thomas Clark, 54, was arrested Thursday in Thailand and is awaiting extradition to the U.S., according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Clark was charged with narcotics conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy in a complaint unsealed Friday and faces at least 10 years and as long as life in prison if convicted.

Ulbricht, 31, was found guilty in February of running Silk Road, a site where customers used bitcoins to buy illegal drugs and hacker tools, from January 2011 to October 2013. He’s serving a sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors said Clark, known online by aliases including "Variety Jones," advised the younger man on managing Silk Road.

“Him coming onto the scene has re-inspired me and given me direction on the SR project,” Ulbricht said of Variety Jones in a 2011 journal entry that was introduced in his trial. “He has helped me see a larger vision. A brand that people can come to trust and rally behind. Silk Road chat, Silk Road exchange, Silk Road credit union, Silk Road market, Silk Road everything!”

Clark allegedly advocated intimidation and violence to keep Silk Road’s staff in line.

Prosecutors cited a conversation in which Ulbricht discussed a plan to "track down" a Silk Road employee to make sure he hadn’t gone "off the rails," prosecutors claim Clark commented: "Dude, we’re criminal drug dealers - what line shouldn’t we cross?"

The case is U.S. v. Clark, 15-mj-01335, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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