Teen Charged with Buying Live Grenade on the Darknet

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Federal prosecutors in Wichita, Kansas have charged a teenager who resides in Coffeyville, Kansas with purchasing an explosive grenade on the “dark web.” Francisco Martin an 18-year old will receive a sentence soon.

Court documents provided revealed that an investigation into Martin began in November 2016 by the FBI. This was when Martin used an encrypted network on the internet that has a speciality in the selling of explosive devices. Steven Gradert, Martin’s attorney stated that the use of bitcoins in purchasing the grenade was what drew the attention of the FBI’s terrorism task force in the first place

Investigations by the FBI revealed that Martin bought the device which was later delivered to his Coffeyville address. In an online conversation between the seller of the grenade and Martin, Martin inquired if he could buy more explosive devices after he had tested the first one.

The FBI though was able to intercept the message and took control of the delivery of an inert explosive device to Martin’s address. Martin’s arrest came in mid-December after he received the package. The federal court’s docket in Wichita reveals Martin waived a preliminary hearing on the charge on April 19th.

According to the associated media, Martin’s defense attorney described his client as a “kind of a dumb 18-year-old kid” who wanted to use the grenade to blow up a truck. Reports then revealed that this was to be revenge because his mother’s car was damaged a while back. Steven Gradert then added that his client plans to plead guilty to the charge.

For many teenagers, going to the dark web via their computer is much easier to obtain what they really want. There have been many cases in which teenagers used the dark web to obtain or engage in illegal activities or purchases including drugs, explosives devices, illegal firearms and many more others.

A recent study conducted by Columbia University revealed that over 85% of deep or dark web pharmacies do not need a prescription or proof of age. This is mainly because; there is a huge profit margin for these sites. Another recent study found that online pharmacies on the dark web generate about 300,000 to 500,000 in sales. This huge form of revenue is what drives drug manufacturers to hunt for teens in a quest to increase their profit.

Going back to 2015, a teenager used dark web markets to buy weapons and ammo in an attempt to plot a mass murder at his former college. Liam Lyburd who was a former college student of the Newcastle pleaded guilty to nine charges which included the two homemade explosives, the manufacture of five pipe bombs and the possession of a 9mm Luger Caliber Glock Firearm.

The police found the items with the help of Liam’s mother who showed them where he kept his stash. Reports suggested that the angry teen’s intention was to carry out a mass murder of students at his former college.  After his arrest, the teenager said it was only but just a fantasy in his head and that he did not have any intent to carry out a massacre at his former college.

Universities this year have already seen plenty of cyber terrorism and the risk of a deadly terrorist attack is always high.

A prosecutor informed the court that, the police had knowledge of the plot when a few months when under the name Felix Burns, the teenager has made a Facebook post about carrying out a mass murder.

“He afterwards said that, he had intended to carry out a mass murder at Newcastle College that very day and that the officers had saved lives, preventing what would have otherwise been a massacre at the college.” according to the prosecutor.

“He repeated to them that it had been his intention to blow up the college and, as he put it, ‘to shoot a bunch of people’, laughing as he was transported to the police station and speculating that he would get four years for it.”

Police officers again discovered a so-called “kill bag” in his bedroom, which had a balaclava, elbow and knee pads, safety gloves and several pipe bombs. They believed he was going to use the bag to carry out the planned attack at his former college.

Law enforcement authorities also stated that Lyburd had disguised himself and was operating under usernames “The Joker” and “I Love My Anger” when he purchased the weapons from various dark web markets that he planned to use for the massacre.

The teenager also had a YouTube Channel where he uploaded videos of himself teaching people on how to load and use a Glock handgun. There were also numerous notes that were found which came from Lyburd. Amongst them included:

  • “You people ruined my whole life don’t expect me to show mercy today.
  • No one disrespects me and gets away with it.
  • “I will teach you, people, a small lesson about respect with my 9mm jacketed hollow points.
  • It’s time for extreme civil disobedience.
  • Fantasy will become reality today for sure.
  • Where the mind goes the body will follow and yes people will die there’s no question about that.”

Investigations by the police also revealed that there were Facebook conversations in which Lyburd had stated that he would execute the attack on the following day. He, however, made a post later saying: I’m not going to do it today, I just can’t.”

Though his Facebook post said that he couldn’t carry out the massacre that day, the prosecutor stated that the prosecution could not accept that fact, since the teenager had said some words to the police officers that could prove that Lyburd had every intention to kill.

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