A senior at a college prepatory school in Jersey was arrested on campus recently for being involved in a darknet drug scheme. The 18-year-old, Joel Lewis used the dark web to import over 300 ecstasy pills and 50 grams of MDMA on two separate times. While this young man is a major criminal in the eyes of the public, in the hands of the court, things are dealt with differently. He has avoided any custodial punishment and instead will have no charges against him in exchange for probation and community service.
Joel Lewis was initially charged with two counts of importing class A drugs in addition to two counts of possession of controlled substances. But in a sense of leniency he only received 384 hours community service as punishment. This was a unanimous decision by the jury too, which is the luckiest sentencing ever for a drug dealer of this magnitude.
But is this the Joel Lewis everyone knew and loved? Seemingly so. This same Joel Lewis was a member of the five student team that won the inaugural academic Stock Market challenge. Representing Victoria College they earned 200% returns on all of their initial investments and funds. It is this genius that led him to understand how to make quick profits on drug sales.
According to records of Jersey’s Royal Court, Lewis tried to have the drugs he ordered from a darknet marketplace sent directly to him at the Mayfair Hotel. Conrad Yates, the state prosecutor told the court that, on March 17 last year, the teenager made a reservation request at the Mayfair hotel, under a nickname and inquired as to whether a letter could be brought to him at the hotel as he allegedly needed it for a meeting. All along, he was just trying to influence the hotel management to keep the package there, until he came to the supposed meeting to pick them up.
Fast forward, the teenage dark web drug dealer called the hotel reception and informed them of an incoming package and requested a notification about its arrival. He was however told that he would need a booking before they could accept any package, which he did. Two packages then arrived with stamps from the Netherlands, which contained the 304 ecstasy pills. The hotel staff became suspicious of the packages and alerted the police, who uncovered that it contained drugs.
Lewis pulled up the next day to pay for the reservation and was captured by CCTV cameras over there. Similar CCTV cameras have been popular in catching Darknet drug vendors in real-time. Earlier in the year Grant West also known as Courvoisier, an infamous darknet drug lord was arrested after being caught on a CCTV conducting illegal business practices. His arrest was immediately afterward. The same, is the case here, where Lewis was arrested immediately after this footage was recorded and reviewed.
Lewis was subsequently arrested by the police at his school. The police then conducted a search at his house and again uncovered 47 grams of MDMA, 2.6 grams of cannabis as well as Ketamine, all hidden in a red tin in his garden. Upon the police questioning him, the teenager admitted to shipping the drugs from the dark web and also revealed that, he orchestrated a similar plan to import his drugs using a hotel in St Malo. Lewis also told the police he was returning from a trip to France that same day to pick up 50 grams of MDMA, with a street value of £12,725, of which he had handed over to two of his accomplices which he called ‘associates’.
According to the police, the ‘associates’ worked for Lewis and were in charge of doing all the ‘dirty work’ for him so that he did not have any direct contact with the drugs.
Lewis stated that this would have been the last time he was going to import drugs from the dark web, as it was very dangerous. State prosecutor, Conrad Yates told the court that, Lewis was the head of this import and sale of controlled substances and together with his associates, they ran a ‘mini-drug business’. He continued by stating that the teenager ‘freely admitted to importing drugs to make a substantial profit’ and normally, crimes of this nature would demand a jail sentence starting from nine years. He, however, requested the court to hand him a two-and-a-half year sentence.
Lewis’s defense attorney, Sarah Dale, however, argued that her client had openly admitted to the offenses at the earliest opportunity as well as helping the police to conduct an investigation by admitting to pulling the same scheme of importing drugs with the hotel in St Malo. She added that all these actions showed how remorseful her client was.
She pleaded with the court to rather give her client a community service which could still allow Lewis to join the army after all. In an effort to give him a second chance at life, the jury found it in their hearts to let Lewis go without prison time. Maybe all of his chances of finishing school and joining the army are not completely burned away.