Five former Manchester University students were handed a cumulative sentence of 56 years by Manchester Crown Court Judge Michael Leeming for selling over $1.2 million USD worth of drugs on the now-defunct Silk Road.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road is BACK ONLINE NOW as Silk Road 3.1 and open for business. The team did a change and upgrade for a reason we can only assume for security.
Basil Assaf, 26, was charged as the ringleader of the group and received a 15-year sentence while his right-hand man, 25-year-old James Roden, was slapped with 12 years in prison.
Jaikishen Patel and Elliott Hyams, both 26, were charged as heavily involved members of the group and were each handed 11-year sentences by Judge Leeming.
Additionally, 28-year-old Joshua Morgan was handed a much shorter sentence than the rest. He was known as the packer and the transporter of drugs in the group.
Silk Road Dealings
As is indicated in a press release from the U.K. National Crime Agency, the five London residents made a fortune selling drugs over the dark web from the beginning of Silk Road up until its ultimate demise in 2013.
It is estimated that the group sold 1.4kg of ketamine, the liquid equivalent of 240,000 ecstasy pills, and 1.2kg of 2CB, netting $1.14 million USD in the process.
Such profit margins from Silk Road allowed the five to spend money freely and it is said that they frequently vacationed in Jamaica, Amsterdam and the Bahamas.
One member is said to have paid off all his student loans and bought a house using his cut of the profits.
About the Group
Eventually, as is bound to happen when there is a lot of money passing through a few hands, fighting broke out within the ranks of the group.
Assaf accused Hyams of unreliability and sacked him. Hyams, bitter from the confrontation, is said to have stolen a large amount of drugs from the group in retaliation.
The two then got into a heated text exchange which led to Assaf disclosing the nature of their business to Hyams’ mother.
Not long had passed after their rift when the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation raided and seized Silk Road servers.
Their information was forwarded to the NCA, and officers reacted quickly to raid the group’s headquarters, which was a shared flat.
Approximately 11,000 doses of LSD, four sets of scales, jiffy bags, envelopes and heat sealing devices were found.
Assaf and his flatmate Roden were arrested that same day, as was Hyams. Patel was arrested a year later.
In a public statement, NCA Senior Operations Manager Ian Glover commended the FBI for taking down Silk Road and providing them with the tools necessary to make the arrests.
According to him, the cover of anonymity is what makes dark web criminals think that they are safe from the law.
The Silk Road case remains a pivotal landmark for both these dark web users and law enforcement since it was the first dark web marketplace in existence and the first to be seized and taken down by the FBI.
It might be a long time before newer cases involving the now-closed Silk Road marketplace are finally settled.