Roger Clark, the alleged right-hand man to Silk Road founder and owner Ross Ulbricht, was extradited to the United States earlier this month. His extradition quickly was followed by the unsealing of a grand jury indictment against him.
While many cybercriminals count on their ability to work within the margins and avoid direct attribution for their crimes to avoid arrest and extradition, it isn’t quite working out that way. Countries are collaborating, and extraditions are happening with ever-increasing frequency.
Those who have been following the demise of Silk Road may recall the 2016 interview of Clark by ARS Technica which occurred while Clark was incarcerated in Thailand. During the interview, he demonstrated a healthy dose of hubris when he exclaimed, “They don’t have shit on me.”
Well, Clark, discovered that may not have been the case.
In fact, the six-count indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice alleges his involvement in narcotics trafficking, internet hacking, money laundering and identity theft. The sealed indictment, the subsequent arrest warrant and Clark’s arrest in Thailand in December 2015 were the first pieces of an intricate daisy chain of events necessary to effect an extradition. The indictment demonstrates Ulbricht relied on Clark for both advice and guidance.
Now that Clark is in the United States, at his upcoming trial the prosecution will be working to demonstrate that the various aliases Clark used online and in correspondence with Ulbricht are definitively owned by Clark, and he was and is the same person as these various alias/pseudonym names.
The indictment specifically calls out Clark as being responsible for:
- Promoting the Silk Road underground website by hiring and managing a computer programmer who assisted in developing computer code and maintaining Silk Road’s technical infrastructure.
- Providing advice to Ulbricht regarding the management of the Silk Road, including security advice and Silk Road rules and policies.
- Assisting in the promotion of sales on Silk Road, including large-scale promotion for narcotics and contraband.
- Conducting research and collecting intelligence on law enforcement efforts to investigate Silk Road.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman noted that Clark was advising Ulbricht on all facets of the business, “… including how to maximize profits and use threats of violence to thwart law enforcement.”
Perhaps one example of the threats of violence referred to by Berman is the alleged planned murder of Silk Road employee Curtis Green following Green’s 2013 arrest. Green’s responsibility within Silk Road included, “responding to questions and complaints from buyers and sellers, resetting passwords, resolving disputes between buyers and sellers,” Berman said. The DoJ noted that Green also had access to Silk Road’s Bitcoin accounts. In 2013, Green was told by federal agents that Ulbricht had paid an undercover agent to kill him. What part of this conspiracy to silence Green permanently, is attributable to Clark remains to be revealed.
Clark faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life imprisonment if found guilty.