Former students jailed after selling drugs on the dark web

|News, Drug offences , International and organised crime

A group of former students have been jailed for their roles in a network buying and selling drugs worth millions of dollars on the dark web.

Basil Assaf, 26, James Roden, 25,  Elliot Hyams, 26,  Jaikishen Patel, 26, and Joshua Morgan, 28, were jailed today 21 March at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to their parts in the drugs network dealing in Ecstasy, 2CB (a hallucinogenic), LSD and Ketamine.

They operated over a period between May 2011 to October 2013 while they were at Manchester University.

The group accessed sites on the dark web initially to buy drugs for personal use but then moved on to purchasing larger quantities to deal them to fellow students. They then sold drugs across the UK and abroad.

On one of the sites they sold large quantities of MDMA in its crystal form, 2CB, LSD in its liquid form and ketamine.

Their recorded sales were around US$1.14 million, but their total sales using the digital payment system Bitcoin were greater because they bypassed the sites’ payment system to avoid paying its commission. They also made money supplying drugs in person.

Using the money, they spent the proceeds on luxury goods and holidays to destinations such as Jamaica and Bahamas.

They were arrested following investigations launched by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on the same day as the FBI seized computer servers from a data centre in Iceland in October 2013. Subsequently another server in Lithuania was shut down.

Andy Young, for the CPS, said: "This group was successfully convicted thanks to the cooperation internationally between investigators and lawyers from Iceland and Lithuania, as well as the FBI, resulting in a wealth of evidence being collated.

"There was also a close working relationship between the CPS and the National Crime Agency. That cooperation extended over a number of complex investigations."

Notes to editors

  • Andy Young is a Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS’ International Justice and Organised Crime Division (IJOCD)
  • Detail of the counts:
    • Count 1: Conspiracy to import MDMA
    • Count 2: Conspiracy to import 2CB
    • Count 3: Conspiracy to Import Ketamine
    • Count 4: Conspiracy to Export MDMA
    • Count 5: Conspiracy to Export 2CB
    • Count 6: Conspiracy to Supply Ketamine in England and Wales
    • Count 7: Conspiracy to Supply MDMA in England and Wales
    • Count 8: Conspiracy to supply 2CB in England and Wales
    • Count 9: Possession of LSD with Intent to Supply
    • Count 10: Conspiracy to supply LSD in England and Wales
    • Count 14: Assisting in the commission of drug supply and exportation by packaging drugs in envelopes
  • Basil Assaf (dob 21/12/91) pleaded guilty to the following to counts 1 to 10 on 29 March 2017. He was sentenced to 15 years and three months
  • James Roden (dob 29/07/92) pleaded guilty to counts 1 to 8 on 29 March 2017 and count 9 on 12 April, 2017. He was sentenced to 12 years
  • Elliot Hyams (dob 06/01/92) pleaded guilty to Counts 1 to 10 when listed for arraignment on 28 February, 2017. He was sentenced to 11 years and three months
  • Jaikishen Patel (05/01/92) pleaded guilty to counts 1 to 8 and 10 when listed to plead on 29 March, 2017. He was sentenced to 11 years and two months
  • Joshua Morgan, (dob 10/23/89) pleaded guilty to count 14 on 8 May 2017. He was sentenced to seven years and two months
  • Counts 11/12/13 were ordered to lie on file.

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