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Silk Road Senior Adviser Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy Charges 

Roger Thomas Clark, a Senior Adviser to the owner of the popular Silk Road marketplace on the Dark Web, has pled guilty to a single count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. 

The plea was made public in a press release from the Department of Justice yesterday. As the release noted, Clark was an instrumental figure in building Silk Road from the onset, providing counsel to Ross Ulbricht- the marketplace’s operator- on how to run the business, while also trying to arrange a murder-for-hire service to help protect the interests of the business and its operator. For instance, he hired a hit on a former employee who was suspected of stealing $350,000 in Bitcoin from the organization. Prosecution for that is currently ongoing

Right-Hand Man to the Boss 

The release pointed out that while Silk Road ran, Clark operated under aliases such as “Plural of Mongoose” and “Variety Jones.” Ulbricht had also reportedly described is adviser as a “real mentor” who helped ensure that the site’s operations and security were always running at optimal levels. 

Apart from providing operational assistance, Clark also allegedly helped Ulbricht to get a cover story that he had sold off the Silk Road domain. He also tried to stay in the loop while authorities investigated the platform- before its eventual closure.   

The Silk Road was, at the time of its closure in 2013, the largest marketplace on the Dark Web. The platform facilitated the sale of narcotics, weapons, and other illegal substances and services, with people making payments in Bitcoin. 

The largesse of Silk Road was rather impressive- so much so that operators and associates on the platform are still being arrested to this day. The last major arrest in connection to the case was last July, when Hugh Brian Haney- one of the most popular drug dealers on the platform- was arrested by authorities in New York. 

Progress with Clamping Down on Bitcoin-based Dark Web Platforms 

At the time, a statement from Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, explained that Haney had used cryptocurrencies to launder as much as $19 million in profits that he got from his dealing days on Silk Road. Haney dealt in just about everything, although he primarily focused on drugs and narcotics.

Angel M. Melendez, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigators (HSI), added that since Silk Road was closed, several dealers had been working to get their money out of the platform via several means. Investigators had employed blockchain analytics to uncover Haney’s funds, and they reached out to him over the sale of Oxycontin between 2011 and 2012. 

The success that law enforcement authorities have had with it underscores wider progress being made by these officials in cracking down on organized crime on this secluded area of the Internet. 2019 saw some significant progress in this regard, with the most notable milestone being the closure of the Wall Street Market- a platform which, at the time of its closure, was the second most popular Dark Web marketplace. 

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