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​How the Man Suspected of Being the Silk Road's Variety Jones Was Caught

It appears he made one of the same mistakes as other suspected Silk Road staff members.
December 5, 2015, 1:01am
Koh Chang, Thailand, where Clark appeared to be residing. Image: AP

Late on Friday, the US Attorney's Office announced the arrest of the man suspected of being a "senior advisor" to Ross Ulbricht, the convicted creator of drug marketplace Silk Road. Roger Thomas Clark is accused of being "Variety Jones," and faces charges of narcotics conspiracy and money laundering.

A complaint against Clark, issued in April of this year, was also unsealed today. It details how investigators were led to Clark, and it appears he made one of the same mistakes as other suspected Silk Road staff members.

Read more: FBI Says Suspected Silk Road Architect Variety Jones Has Been Arrested

"I have reviewed the contents of a decrypted version of the image file entitled 'cimon.jpg,'" wrote Gary L. Alford, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in the complaint. Cimon was one of Variety Jones's alter aliases.

It "contains a passport issued by Canada for ROGER THOMAS CLARK, lists his date of birth as September 13, 1961, and indicates that it was issued in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ("UK")."


Ulbricht, in his hire of employees, requested governmental identification from each potential staffer. This was the case with Inigo, SSBD, and Libertas, all members of the Silk Road who carried out various key roles. It appears that Variety Jones may have done the same.

A screenshot from the complaint.

From here, Alford stated he found that Clark was listed on the corporate filing for a UK based company called "Gypsy Nirvana Limited." Clark was the director of that company, according to the record. Alford then points to a chat log found on Ulbricht's computer with Cimon stating that he had created this company.

Here, things get a little hazier, with the introduction of an unnamed cooperating witness (labeled in the complaint as "CW-1").

In April, this witness allegedly told law enforcement that "Roger Clark" is the individual behind the Variety Jones alias, and that Clark also used the nickname "Mongoose." In chat logs from Ulbricht's computer, Cimon indicated that he had used his name.

"I was, and am, Plural of Mongoose," he allegedly wrote. "Folks who know and love me, it's Mongoose."

CW-1, according to a footnote in the complaint, has already been charged with crimes for his participation in Silk Road, and is cooperating with law enforcement in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence.

Other logs referenced in the complaint point to Variety Jones worrying about facing deportation from the UK while he was living there, and that Cimon made multiple references to living in Thailand.

Roger Thomas Clark was arrested on December 3 in Thailand. A Motherboard investigation had identified Variety Jones as either a Roger or Thomas Clark. It's also worth mentioning that the independent researcher known as La Moustache followed the trail of Plural of Mongoose, through to a Mr. Clark in March of this year, a month before the complaint was issued.

Read the full complaint: