More than 14 months after his arrest, Ross Ulbricht has been convicted of being the Dread Pirate Roberts, the masked determine who ran the Silk Road’s unprecedented on-line grocery store for medication. But the person who first created that masks—and in some ways served as Silk Road’s mastermind simply as a lot as Ulbricht—stays a mysterious determine, and one who by all appearances walked away unscathed from his involvement within the Silk Road’s billion-dollar drug operation.
As Ulbricht’s trial unfolded over the past month, one character appeared time and again within the chat logs prosecutors pulled from the laptop computer seized from Ulbricht on the time of his arrest: a person calling himself Variety Jones, and later, Cimon.
In the previous yr and a half U.S. legislation enforcement have arrested Ulbricht, three of his Silk Road staffers and even the administrator of a second Silk Road, however no legislation enforcement company has publicly recorded capturing anybody utilizing Jones’ pseudonyms. Yet primarily based on Ulbricht’s chat logs and secret journal, Jones served as nothing lower than Ulbricht’s “mentor,” advising the Dread Pirate Roberts intently on all the things from managing the positioning’s sellers to hiding his cash offshore to threatening enemies with real-world violence.
“[He] was the biggest and strongest willed character I had met through the site thus far,” Ulbricht wrote in a 2011 journal entry.
He has suggested me on many technical side[s] of what we’re doing, helped me velocity up the positioning and squeeze extra out of my present servers. He has helped me higher work together with the neighborhood round Silk Road, delivering proclamations, dealing with troublesome characters, operating a sale, altering my title, devising guidelines, and on and on. He additionally helped me get my head straight concerning authorized safety, cowl tales, devising a will, discovering a successor, and so forth. He’s been an actual mentor.
To the typical Silk Road consumer, Variety Jones was only a high-volume marijuana seed vendor, who took nice pains to please his clients and ship his product the identical day as their order. But behind the scenes, Jones could have had some form of possession, partnership or funding within the Silk Road. He’s not included within the record of salaried staffers present in Ulbricht’s accounting recordsdata. Yet over the nameless and encrypted on the spot messaging system Torchat, he mentioned with Ulbricht each inside element of the market, from the positioning’s gross sales statistics to its org chart of staff.
When Ulbricht informed Jones that he had revealed his Silk Road secret to each a programmer buddy and to his ex-girlfriend, it was Jones who got here up with Ulbricht’s Dread Pirate Roberts nickname. Ulbricht couldn’t even bear in mind precisely what function the Dread Pirate Roberts had performed within the movie The Princess Bride. Jones defined that the Dread Pirate was a deal with handed down from individual to individual, the right cowl story for creating the phantasm that Ulbricht had handed off possession of the Silk Road if he have been ever caught.
“You need to change your name from Admin, to Dread Pirate Roberts,” Jones wrote in an early 2012 chat with Ulbricht. He mentioned that he had given the thought 12 hours of great thought. “Start the legend now…Clear your old trail – to be honest, as tight as you play things, you are the weak link from those two [previous] contacts.”
Variety Jones’s relationship with Ulbricht had begun in late 2011, when he alerted Ulbricht to a hackable flaw within the web site’s use of bitcoin after which began advising him on different technical upgrades. “He quickly proved to me that he had value by pointing out a major security hole in the site I was unaware of,” Ulbricht wrote in his journal. “We quickly began discussing every aspect of the site as well as future ideas. He convinced me of a server configuration paradigm that gave me the confidence to be the sole server administrator and not work with someone else at all.”
Jones remained Ulbricht’s closest confidant and drawback solver for the following two years of the positioning’s existence. The chat logs between the 2 that prosecutors used as proof in Ulbricht’s trial prolonged to greater than a thousand pages. Ulbricht requested for Jones’ enter in duties as small as modifying the textual content of warnings he despatched to misbehaving sellers, or writing the commercial for Silk Road’s annual 4/20 sale. Jones served as a penetration tester, seeking out safety vulnerabilities in Silk Road code written by its staff. And he even acted as a type of PR marketing consultant, warning Ulbricht to not converse with a Vice Magazine reporter who requested for an interview. “Nobody has ever regretted not doing an interview; lots of folks have regretted doing one,” Jones wrote.