Silkroad Vendor “shadh1”
Paul Howard aka “shadh1” was the first ever drug vendor with ties to Silkroad to get caught and sentenced after pleading guilty to a barrage of charges, one of which was drug trafficking.
At the time, Silkroad was touted to be the safest place to conduct drug deals being one of the numerous cryptomarkets that law enforcement found so elusive.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.
Other than being the first arrest of a Silkroad drug dealer since its launch in 2011, this particular case stood out for a number of reasons, some of which were baffling, to say the least.
Silkroad was eventually shut down in 2013 after three rocky years of operation and a bunch of significant arrests.
According to details that were revealed during the trial, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services had begun to intercept packages addressed to Howard and his wife’s home address.
In total, 12 mail packages which contained MDMA (better known as ecstasy or simply “e”) were seized by the authorities.
A level of ingenuity had been used to package the drugs as they were cleverly hidden in paraphernalia such as lighters, DVD players, and cards.
Curiously enough, the Silkroad vendor did not notice the thinning inflow of drugs since he kept placing more and more orders on Silkroad as later revealed during the trial.
It was not until the authorities had intercepted a total of 46.9 grams of MDMA that they decided to take the next course of action.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) had enough to warrant a sweep of Howard’s home in Brunswick.
In what was the first and very successful drug raid of a Silkroad dealer’s house, the AFP managed to dig up an additional 50 grams of MDMA, 14.5 grams of cocaine and a whopping 989 grams of cannabis.
The drugs were in various stages of packaging as the police stumbled upon several zip-loc bags and scales at the scene.
Some of the drugs had already been packaged into sealed envelopes waiting for shipment.
The police then went on to perform a sweep of his vehicle where they unearthed what appeared to be innocuous sugar cubes that contained a substance which was unidentifiable at the time.
It was only after Howard’s sentencing that substance was identified as LSD. He was not charged with the possession of the drug.
The icing on the cake for the AFP was when they stumbled onto some very incriminating evidence on Howard’s phone and computers.
In addition to 148 text messages on his phone which irrevocably bound him to various drug trading activities and had numerous references to Silkroad, the police also found a number of pictures in his computers in which he could be seen handling the drugs.
In what many consider to be a humorous turn of events, his vehicle was also used as evidence against him owing to the fact that his license plate number was the same as his Silkroad moniker, “shadh1.”
Open and Shut Case
The prosecution had a field day cross-examining thousands of incriminating text messages dug up from the Silkroad vendor’s phone, some of which contained explicit information concerning his operations on Silkroad and the volume of drugs he had in possession.
Howard had little choice but to cooperate in the hopes of getting a more lenient sentencing.
He aided the police to search his computer where they managed to dig up a message Howard had posted on Silkroad when he began his illegal dealings.
In a nutshell, the message was a simple bio of who he was and what he did write in a very affable tone.
In addition to importing more than the required marketable quantity of border-controlled drugs into the country, Howard also pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and the possession of over 30 controlled weapons.