In a single operation, three Western Illinois University students have been arrested in a major darknet marketplace drug bust. The three were all staying in McDonough County on April 30. William Carter Hirmonimus-Wendt, a cyber security studies major, Jacob Cole Nelson, an exercise science studies major, and Zachary Dean Barnett, a pre-business finance studies major were arrested after procuring controlled substances off the darknet. They were buying these illegal drugs using Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
Zachary Barnett, the 18 years old student was arrested in Morgan Hall on April 30 shortly after a package that contained illegal drugs mailed to him was intercepted by authorities at the local United States Post Office (USPS). Barnett allegedly bought LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, ecstasy, MDMA, steroids, Modafinil and Xanax off darknet marketplaces. After obtaining a search warrant the police searched the three suspects residences and also recovered gummy bears infused with synthetic THC.
Cases of students purchasing and trafficking drugs obtained from the dark web are on the rise, as seen with UK students buying drugs for cheap. According to postal services authorities that are carefully examining suspected packages, some packages have even been addressed to underage children.
According to Lieutenant General Lindsey May, the police have been working jointly with the postal service at the Macomb facility. They are connecting illicit packages to home addresses and looking to bust anyone prior to needing a package to deliver. In the case of these three university students, Lindsey May referred to them as the “Amazon of drugs” bust. According to an interview with TSPR Lieutenant May, “it was a successful and significant target for that area in reference to operation fighting illegal substances.” The three have been the main drug suppliers for both students and locals.
Zachary Barnett is now facing charges of seven counts of manufacturing and illicit delivery of substances. Other charges include purchasing and possessing with the intention of distributing dangerous illegal substances to underage students. Another charge is for providing alcoholic drinks according to Illinois State Police troopers. He was however released on bond set at $5,000.
William Carter Hirmonimus-Wendt, is believed to be the brain behind the whole illegal project and was facing at least six charges for manufacturing, delivery, procuring and distributing controlled substances and further six charges on possession of illegal drugs including delivery of over 500 grams of THC. He was released on cash bail set at $2,000.
The third suspect, Jacob Cole Nelson was released on cash bail set at $500 for two charges of possession and distribution of illegal drugs.
The three suspects are expected to appear at McDonough County District court again on May 21.