A man from Christchurch, New Zealand has admitted to buying and then importing drugs from the dark web and reselling them. Timothy Robert Fearn pleaded guilty to importing class A and class B drugs and selling them. Appearing in a Christchurch District Court, the 33-year-old admitted that, he bought ecstasy and methamphetamine from dark web dealers in the Netherlands and the United States and had them delivered to him in his Bromley home.
Other offenses were alleged and representative charges were laid, indicating that, Fearn was already an offender. Judge Jane Farish, who presided over the case, remanded Fearn on bail and set his sentencing date for March 25, 2020. Judge Farish also requested a pre-sentence report which would consider his suitability for home detention, as well as an alcohol and drug assessment.
Image Source: www.careers.govt.nz
Fearn’s arrest was as a result of a dark web sting called “Operation Skillet,” which fished out dark web drug dealers and arrested them. Two other culprits arrested as a result of this operation has already been sentenced to prison. Operation Skillet started from May to September 2016 and within that period, officers caught the Christchurch man and other accomplices trying to use the mail service to receive drugs they bought on the dark web.
According to court documents, officers of the New Zealand Customs created and operated a mail screening service at the International Mail Center at Auckland Airport, which checked international postal articles and freight courier items, after several reports of drugs being delivered through the mail into the country. “Illegal drugs have been ordered over the internet using “dark web” underground marketplaces too many times. The illegal goods are increasingly paid for using Bitcoins, which were seen to be like cash for the internet,” one custom officer stated.
He added that it is very common for the importer of these illegal drugs to use false or fictitious names but to use addresses that they have some sort of control over so they can retrieve the items when it arrives. The New Zealand Custom officers intercepted packages containing methamphetamine and ecstasy at the International Mail Centre which was addressed to Fearn’s address with another person’s name on it, or other addresses. A total of 27g of methamphetamine and 3.6g of ecstasy were seized after custom officers examined the packages.
It was later revealed that Fearn was living at an apartment at Bromley and used that address in ordering the drugs from the dark web. He was working as an engineer at an engineering firm in Christchurch but also doubled as a drug dealer, buying his drugs from the dark web. The Christchurch man was subsequently arrested and interrogated by the police. He initially denied any knowledge and involvement in ordering drugs from the dark web or any online site for that matter. He later stated that he did not order the drugs from the dark web but paid another dealer to take care of the payment for the drugs he ordered as he didn’t have much knowledge of cryptocurrencies.
After the police uncovered incriminating messages about drug dealing on his phone, he then admitted to knowing that, the packages were his and he knew they all contained illegal drugs as he was waiting for them to sell.
Fearn’s guilty pleas come just weeks after two other New Zealand dark web drug dealers pleaded guilty in an Australian court for their role in a multi-million drug trafficking ring. The two New Zealand nationals pleaded guilty to charges against them which trafficking a commercial quantity of both a drug of dependence and a border-controlled drug and importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug and in a Melbourne County Court.
Image Source: americanaddictioncenters.org
Jackson Li and Steen McBeth, both 28 were part of a dark web drug trafficking ring that used children’s toys to conceal and transport their illegal substances. The duo was arrested in Melbourne in 2017 after an investigation by the Australian Federal Police uncovered a dark web international multimillion-dollar importation operation paid for with only bitcoin.
Officers of the Australian Federal Police intercepted over 120 packages coming from abroad. After analyzing the packages, it was revealed to be containing 5.4 kilograms of MDA, 1.8 kilograms of cocaine and 886 grams of ketamine.
The two New Zealand nationals had many post office boxes registered to several different names, as well as parcel lockers in Melbourne. After their arrest, officers of the AFP found out that, Li, has rented an apartment in Mernda, a suburb in Melbourne where all the drugs they ordered from the dark web were stored and packaged. The pair were also caught on surveillance tapes, carrying drugs with black duffle bags from the Mernda apartment to several post offices.
The drug dealers were also caught on several occasions, buying pillows, cushions and a ton of children’s toys that they used to conceal their controlled substances, at several shopping malls. The pair also reportedly transferred some of their criminal proceeds into Australian currency and were withdrawn as cash, even though most of the transactions of the ring were done using bitcoin.
During a raid on their residence, the police seized black 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo, over than $150,000 in cash, printed labels marked ‘Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ and several cash-counting machines. The pair also allegedly owned many MBW vehicles as well as motorcycles which however wasn’t found at the residence during the raid. They are now scheduled to be sentenced on January 29, 2020, and will be deported back to New Zealand once they finish serving their prison terms.
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