Blockchain News

Silk Road Bitcoin Black Market Advisor Receives Maximum Sentence of 20 Years

Roger Thomas Clark, also known by aliases such as “Plural of Mongoose,” “Variety Jones,” “VJ,” and “cimon,” has received a 20-year prison sentence for his prominent role as a key advisor to Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the notorious Silk Road illicit black market. Clark’s involvement in the operation spanned a wide range of activities, including providing guidance to Ulbricht on various aspects of the enterprise and even facilitating an attempted murder-for-hire, as stated in a press release from the Southern District Court of New York.

Silk Road, which operated covertly from 2011 to 2013, served as a clandestine online marketplace where thousands of drug dealers and vendors distributed illegal substances and illicit goods to over 100,000 buyers. The platform also facilitated the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars generated from these unlawful transactions. With more than 1.5 million transactions, involving over 115,000 buyer accounts and 3,000 seller accounts, Silk Road amounted to a massive criminal operation. The total value of these transactions was estimated to be around $213 million, with drug sales accounting for over $183 million.

The assortment of drugs available on Silk Road was staggering, encompassing 82 kilograms of cocaine and 26 kilograms of heroin. The platform was specifically designed to allow users to anonymously trade drugs and other illegal goods and services, evading law enforcement’s reach through the use of the Tor network and a Bitcoin-based payment system.

Clark’s personal journal revealed his significant influence over Ulbricht, serving as a “real mentor” and advising on security vulnerabilities, technical infrastructure, and the rules governing Silk Road users and vendors. He also assisted Ulbricht in hiring a programmer to enhance and maintain the platform’s infrastructure while offering guidance on protecting the criminal empire.

Furthermore, the operation heavily relied on Bitcoin, enabling anonymous transactions. In 2013, the US government seized over 144,000 Bitcoin, valued at over $1 billion, associated with Silk Road. In a recent development, the government sold approximately 9,800 Bitcoin connected to the illicit marketplace for around $215 million in March 2023.

The sentencing of Clark comes as the culmination of joint efforts by multiple agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation’s New York Field Office, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago-O’Hare, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division, and the New York City Police Department.

In addition to his prison term, Clark, a Canadian citizen, has been handed a three-year supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1,606,150.

Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency market’s behemoth, Bitcoin, is currently trading at $30,600, making a concerted push to surpass its immediate resistance level at $31,000. However, BTC remains down by over 1% in the past 24 hours, demonstrating the prevailing challenges faced by the digital asset.


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