Students in the United Kingdom were jailed for a combined 57 years for selling drugs on the dark web. Inspired by the TV series Breaking Bad, the four men from the University of Manchester managed to sell $1 million worth of drugs before the FBI could catch them.
In October 2013, the four were busted selling their drugs on the Silk Road website. James Roden, 25, Elliot Hyams, Jaikishen Patel, and Basil Assaf, all 26, were sentenced to jail this week. A fifth person, 28-year-old Joshua Morgan, was also jailed but received a lighter sentence because of his small role in packaging.
According to Newsweek, the group, which was led by Assaf, was selling ecstasy, horse tranquilizers, and two types of hallucinogens—Ketamine and 2CB. They sold drugs on the popular dark web website Silk Road between May 2011 and October 2013. Their operation headquarters in Manchester was raided after the FBI shut down Silk Road’s servers in Iceland.
According to the Manchester Evening News, a picture of a flask on Roden’s phone featured Walter White, the main character of Breaking Bad. The court had previously heard it was an ongoing joke between the gang.
Nonetheless, regardless of their lengthy prison sentences, (Assaf got over 15 years) the gang expects to be freed as millionaires, because they accepted funds in Bitcoin, and those transactions are hidden. “No one could find out how many bitcoins accumulated and are stored elsewhere,” Assaf allegedly bragged in a message.
According to Assaf’s lawyer, Alistair Webster, the group’s actions were morally defensible. “It was his view at the time of the events in question that with the use of drugs ubiquitous in the university, that what he and his friends were doing was morally defensible,” Webster said, according to Manchester Evening News.
But Manchester Crown Court Judge Michael Lemming was not sympathetic. “Drugs are a blight on our society,” Lemming said, according to The Guardian. “Misery and degradation is the typical result. As intelligent men, you will each appreciate the misery that is caused and certainly contributed to by people like you. My duty here is threefold: firstly, to protect the public from people like you. Second, to punish you, and third, to deter those who may be similarly minded to act this way in the future. These offenses are so serious that only immediate custody and sentences of some length can be considered.”
Congratulations to the war on drugs and government regulations for creating the black market and the dark web, to begin with.
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