The world’s first dark web market for illicit drugs and other illegal things has gained notoriety outside of the deep web sphere, with news regarding the marketplace making it to mainstream media, especially after the market was dissolved.
The action started about a decade ago when the so-called Silk Road started gaining notoriety. From firearms and hitmen to illegal passports and drugs, people could find anything in there, yet the market was originally established for drug transactions.
The FBI managed to tear the market apart and find the man behind it, Ross Ulbricht, hanging around in a library in San Francisco. But then, he was obviously not alone, so the authorities kept digging until they’ve managed to find the second in command, Variety Jones.
Multiple investigations led to a place in Thailand, where he was arrested. A decade after the market was taken down, Roger Thomas Clark a.k.a. Variety Jones was sentenced to join his old friend in prison.
The trial behind Variety Jones’ case
Apart from Variety Jones, Clark was also known as Mongoose, Plural, or Cimon. Facing a plethora of evidence leading to him, the 62 year old man will most likely spend most of his remaining life in prison. Sentenced to 20 years, the Canadian national was given the maximum sentence.
According to Judge Sidney Stein’s final words, Clark believed drugs should be legal and turned his idea into a criminal business. His beliefs quickly went from a few thoughts to illegal behavior that got him behind bars.
It seems he was intentional in everything he did and was often considered Ulbricht’s right hand in running the business. He was definitely a leader, so the maximum sentence was given to reflect his role in establishing such an impressive market.
Clark hasn’t denied anything. In fact, he discussed his beliefs and opinions openly and claimed his only motivation was the fact that drugs should be legal. He also claimed that the drug deals his market facilitated over the dark web were safer than drug deals occurring face to face.
He stated that the Silk Road helped reduce the high amounts of violence associated with the drug industry. Standing in front of a few people in the audience, he agreed that harm reduction was the only thing that helped him sleep at night.
In the end, he also agreed that he was both proud and ashamed of his role within the Silk Road market.
Variety Jones’ role in the Silk Road
As Ulbricht’s right hand, Variety Jones had a few different roles in the marketplace. He was a security consultant for the official website, but he was also an advisor in terms of public relations. Furthermore, he had an executive role, and he was considered a coach for the actual leader.
The two met while Ulbricht was looking for marijuana seeds over the dark web. In his journal, the former Silk Road boss claimed that Clark was the strongest willed character he had ever met.
According to the evidence gathered by prosecutors, it looks like Clark was open to murder as well, especially after one of the employees was caught stealing Bitcoin. By the time the incident occurred, the FBI was already investigating the Silk Road.
To gain easier access to Ulbricht and Clark, agents had to fake the employee’s death. The respective incident also contributed to the 20 year sentence. Clark denied commenting on the respective conversation, despite the evidence gathered in logs from Ulbricht’s computer.
However, before concluding, he agreed that the Silk Road had saved thousands of lives, but at the same time, it took some too.
He compared the Silk Road to the so-called trolley problem. In ethical philosophy, you must choose which track to take while on a train, with people tied on each direction. You save some, you lose some.
While not verified, Clark made claims regarding spending over $800,000 from his business review to invest in hacking tools that were later used against child exploitation and pornography. He claims that many of these tools were sent to US and UK governments.
Clark’s claims were a bit dramatized, including in conversations with Ulbricht. He promised Ulbricht he would come by helicopter to save him from prison if he ever got caught. No such operations ever came for Ulbricht.
Before leaving the court, Clark concluded with a simple statement. He turned to the small audience and asked everybody to take a good look. He said that’s most likely the last time people will see him before he gets killed.
The sentence has just been given in July. Clark has returned to prison and will most likely join his former Silk Road boss at some point. Only time can tell how accurate his claims are and whether or not they are actually true.