A senior adviser to the Silk Road dark web marketplace operator has pled guilty in a federal court in Manhattan to one count of conspiracy to distribute massive quantities of narcotics, a charge arising out of his role as the senior adviser to the owner and operator of the “Silk Road” online illicit black market.
According to a United States Department of Justice press release, Roger Thomas Clark was a key figure in the development of Silk Road, advising on all aspects of the criminal enterprise, and facilitated an attempted murder-for-hire to protect its interests.
Ross Ulbricht, creator of Silk Road, described Clark as a “real mentor” who advised Ulbricht about, among other things, technical infrastructure, security vulnerabilities in the Silk Road site, the rules that governed Silk Road users and vendors, and the promotion of sales on Silk Road, including the sales of narcotics.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:
“Silk Road was a secret online marketplace for illegal drugs, hacking services, and a whole host of other criminal activity. As he admitted today, Roger Thomas Clark was a central figure in helping to lead Silk Road and in advocating violence to protect the site. Clark even went so far as to urge, and facilitate, the attempted killing of a co-conspirator suspected of stealing from Silk Road. Clark’s arrest, extradition from Thailand, and conviction should make it clear that the purported anonymity of the dark web is not a protective shield from prosecution.”
Jailed Ulbricht has plenty of interest in the cryptocurrency sector, with Tim Draper calling for his release recently. Ulbricht has remained a Bitcoin supporter himself, predicting recently that the price would reach $100,000 in 2020.
New data revealed that the use of cryptocurrencies on darknet markets doubled last year. A recent report by a New York-based blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis found that darknet markets increased their share of total incoming crypto transactions significantly in 2019 to 0.08% from 0.04% in 2018.