Silk Road owner’s mentor sentenced to 20 years in prison

Joel Loynds
Silk Road logo in a prisonSilk Road/PXFuel

An accomplice and mentor of Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the notorious dark web site Silk Road, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Roger Thomas Clark, better known as “Variety Jones”, has been sentenced to prison with a 20-year sentence. The 61-year-old was named by the creator of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, as a mentor in his journals.

The sentencing occurred in New York on Tuesday, after an extensive legal battle. He was charged with “conspiring to distribute massive quantities of narcotics”, which he pled guilty to in 2020. Originally, the plea was for a maximum of seven and a half years, but this was shot down by the judge.

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Clark was found and arrested in Thailand in 2015 after he hid during the aftermath of the website’s demise. Mastermind Ulbricht dubbed him a mentor and was arrested in both 2013 and 2015. Following his arrest, Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison.

When the site was still operational, Clark pushed Ulbricht to hire a hitman, and as detailed in the journals, let him see a “larger vision”.

Clark was eventually brought over to the US in 2018 for sentencing after spending two and a half years in a Thai prison.

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What was the Silk Road website?

The Silk Road was a drug and illegal marketplace that pioneered a lot of how the current dark web marketplaces operate.

Silk Road sold everything from narcotics to hacking services, and even weirder items, like banned energy drinks. It operated without cash, with only cryptocurrency payments accepted.

During the early days, this was very easy to “tumble” and effectively hide where it was going.

It ran from 2011 to 2013, during which it accumulated approximately $1.2 billion.

Ross Ulbricht, who went by Dread Pirate Roberts, was eventually caught by the FBI after he left his laptop alone in a library. The excellent video documentary by Barely Sociable details the downfall.

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About The Author

E-Commerce Editor. You can get in touch with him over email: joel.loynds@dexerto.com. He's written extensively about video games and tech for over a decade for various sites. Previously seen on Scan, WePC, PCGuide, Eurogamer, Digital Foundry and Metro.co.uk. A deep love for old tech, bad games and even jankier MTG decks.