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Forgotten Silk Road Architect 'Variety Jones' Appears to Be Back Online

The mysterious Silk Road character may have emerged from hiding.

by Joseph Cox
Sep 22 2015, 3:44pm

Image: Shutterstock

The infamous behind-the-scenes Silk Road architect Variety Jones may be posting online again after years of silence.

Variety Jones was the mentor of convicted Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht. He made financial and security decisions for the site, and also tried to expand the Silk Road brand into other areas, such as an encrypted email service.

According to Silk Road backups maintained by security researcher Runa Sandvik, Variety Jones was active in the same month the site was shut down and its creator arrested in October 2013. He hasn't been publicly heard from since.

Earlier this month, Motherboard published an investigation based on previous work conducted by the independent researcher known as "La Moustache" and the contents of an old email account belonging to Variety Jones.

Based on this information, Motherboard concluded that the identity (or at least real-world pseudonym) of Variety Jones is Roger or Thomas Clark. Efforts to reach Variety Jones/Mr. Clark were unsuccessful.

Now, it appears that one of Variety Jones' old user names has been resurrected. On a cannabis enthusiast forum, "Plural of Mongoose," one of the monikers that led La Moustache to Variety Jones, has started posting long, autobiographical, and all-around entertaining writings.

It's unclear where Plural of Mongoose is located at the moment, but, in characteristic style, he hints that he is going to be making some sort of journey soon—suggesting that perhaps he might be going to prison.

"So I've got this trip planned, to the Big Apple. Golly gee and shucks, I shure am looking forward to seeing the big city 'n stuff," he writes. "I'm not sure exactly where I'm gonna be staying when I get there, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be one of them 'state of the art' facilities, if you know what I mean."

It appears he has logged back into his account, supposedly created back in 2009, to communicate with old forum contacts before taking this trip. That is assuming the account is being operated by its actual owner, and not a third party.

"Since I really have no fucking idea exactly how long I'm going to be gone for, I thought I'd set up a time to drop back and have a little get-together with some of my friends, enemies, and assorted acquaintances before I go, well, away for a bit," he writes.

The posts, which sometimes go over 3,000 words each, go on to explain how Plural of Mongoose was arrested for running an artisan cannabis factory in the UK, and various other escapades.

At one point, he identities himself by the names uncovered by La Moustache and Motherboard. "Dude, my name *is* Roger Thomas Clark," he writes. "I go by Thomas."

Plural of Mongoose declined Motherboard's request for comment. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.