Peter Ward, known by the online name PlutoPete, was sentenced for possessing, supplying and importing class A as well as class B drugs, which included crystal meth and crack cocaine. He sold drugs on the darknet marketplace called Silkroad. Ward, a self-styled “psychonaut,” has been sentenced to a jail term of five years and two months for the crimes committed by him.
In addition to selling illegal drugs and legal highs through Silkroad, PlutoPete also provided prisoners with “care packages” hiding drugs inside blotting paper. He was put in a jail in Birmingham crown court after he admitted to 13 counts connected with the possession and supply as well as importation of class A and class B drugs, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The fifty-five-year-year-old Silk Road vendor, Peter Ward, was sentenced along with Richard Hiley, who not only converted bitcoins into cash for Ward, but also sold drugs himself. Thirty-year-old Hiley, who hails from Oldbury, West Midlands, and used online names such as RichieRich and happyman, was put in jail for a period of five years. He also admitted to the charges leveled against him and two counts of stun gun imports.
Silkroad vendor arrested
Ward was arrested for the first time in October 2013 in Barnstaple, Devon, following a crackdown on darknet marketplace Silkroad which pioneered online drug sales. Darknet refers to a network of hard-to-trace and unlisted websites such as Silkroad which are commonly used for illicit activities. Ward who was running a foil packaging business claimed that the packaging was capable of preventing drug detection. He also dealt in legal highs as well as other drug paraphernalia.
After Silkroad was shut down, when searching Ward’s home, NCA officers did not only retrieve class A and class B drugs from the Silkroad vendor’s home, but also computers which contained details relating to as many as 5,235 transactions over a period of two years. Out of these transactions, many were legal, but 54 were found to be illegal and they related to dealings in illegal drugs. A forensic analysis of the information collected from his home brought to light his association with Richard Hiley, a former Silkroad customer, whom Ward commissioned to get bitcoins converted into cash. In December 2013, when authorities searched the home of Hiley, authorities came across 242 sales records relating to cocaine, crystal meth and cannabis. Authorities also came across messages that showed that he had to employ a team of people to help when the business boomed.
According to the NCA, dealers often failed to take proper care when it came to handling customers’ personal details. Ian Glover, NCA Branch Commander, said that criminals as well as their customers believed that darknet marketplaces like Silkroad provided a safe and anonymous haven. He added that the reality is something different and that law enforcement authorities from different countries worked together not only to identify criminals, but also to apprehend such people. He also noted that the NCA worked along with the law enforcement authorities to identify and apprehend criminals who illegally traded firearms and drugs online.