A teenager from New Zealand, Elias Valentine Smith has successfully appealed his jail sentence after being sent to prison on 14 drug-related crimes. Smith was sentenced two years and three months in prison after authorities caught him in a drug ring that involved several teenagers who operated from their parent homes. Using multiple Bitcoin wallet addresses, he was able to control several drug trades on the dark web and its darknet marketplace culture. Authorities, after obtaining a slight hint conducted a search in his parent’s house which led to the discovery of evidence against him.
After the sentence, Elias’ lawyer was able to convince the court that the punishment was too harsh considering his age. The sentence was therefore reduced to eleven months of a house arrest. Even his original sentence could be seen as lenient as we have reported on other busted darknet drug dealers sent away for many years.
“Would a young gang prospect on the East Coast of the North Island, who is looking at prison time for methamphetamine, accept that someone who was purchasing drugs on the darknet and paying in bitcoin was not worldly wise?” the Judge asked in session. “The covert use of new technologies to break the law has its own level of sophistication,” another judge added.
Marie Dyhrberg QC, Elias’ lawyer has strongly appealed the case and Elias could come out with a successful outcome. The Darknet drug dealings have been a major problem in New Zealand as traffickers always find the country more favorable for their drug importation. In a report, Kiwis are motivated to import such drugs into the country due to how ready the buyers are to make payment at higher prices. The country has also recorded a higher rise of drugs interception at the borders coupled with many arrests. This has forced authorities to raid drug markets and houses from which many youths have been arrested.
New Zealand customs agency properly noticed and intercepted a package which was addressed to Elias Smith in 2015. Upon a further search, they discovered illegal drugs which were suspected to have come from a Darknet marketplace. Aside from that package, the customs agents intercepted several others mailed to him.
The New Zealand federal police have also been increasing their darknet training tactics to better understand how this drug business operates and where to find the goods. Once the federal authorities were alerted, they attained a search warrant and went straight to Smith’s home, shocking his family in the process. The search led to the seizure of methamphetamine and 80 tablets of lysergic acid, a precursor for LSD. And it is interesting how LSD even showed up as this is a minor drug in the USA being traded. In India, an LSD kingpin was taken down for darknet drugs sold on a college campus. But little is said about such in the US.
Aside from the seized drugs, the authorities also discovered a set of scale in his room. A further investigation revealed that Smith had some investments made using Bitcoin debit cards and the like. His mobile phone was seized to aid in a further investigation. On his phone, it was revealed that Elias had a communication with one of his buyers. In the chat, he described his drugs to the buyer and also assured him of a discount. In November 2016 Elias Smith was arrested and tried.
According to a report, the intercepted shipment originated from Canada. He then told his friend, Nicholas Michael Barker to use his parent’s home address as the destination for the shipments. Agreeing on a $200 payment for every successful delivery, Barker started receiving packages through his parent’s address. The customs agents on January 2, 2016 intercepted a package which contained amphetamine shipped from Germany. Barker’s name was found on the package, and authorities started taking notice of it.
Around November, 760 tablets of lysergic acids and fentanyl were intercepted. The package which originated from Poland with Barker’s name gave a great signal for authorities to strike.
Authorities searched Barker’s room and discovered 5-Dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine. On that same day, Smith’s room was also searched. Considering the fact the Smith was in the act of selling a drug using the darknet, his lawyer was with the strong opinion that Smith did not engage in that act for a commercial purpose, and he had no criminal mind. This was part of the reasons for the appeal, believing that the sentence was not fair to the young man.
Despite a successful appeal, the authorities are issuing a strong warning to a people who engage in the illicit trafficking of drugs using the Darknet and the Bitcoin as a means of payment in New Zealand. The operation Tigers have already sent a warning to young Darknet users. The arrest of Smith and Barker indicates their underground operations.