A former employee of KFC, a fast-food restaurant who built a multi-million dark web drug empire has been sentenced to jail. Paul Johnson, the culprit, sold a vast amount of numerous illegal drugs on the dark web, whiles still working at KFC and ran his dark web drug business from his attic at his Market Harborough, Leicestershire home. Mr. Johnson according to court documents, sold and distributed almost 200 kilos of ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, fluoroamphetamine, heroin, cannabis, and other controlled substances and only accepted payment in bitcoin on the dark web. Mr. Johnson also accepted payment in Bank transfer or cash put in his bank account, off the dark web.
The 32-year-old used his legitimate tea trading business as a front, to import the control substances and sell them. Prosecutor Luke Blackburn stated that the former KFC employee first started dealing in ecstasy and cannabis before expanding his business into selling several controlled substances. Prosecutor Blackburn also revealed that none of his neighbors in his market Harborough neighborhood suspected him of any criminal activity, as he lived in his semi-detached house with his 28-year-old wife and child.
Image Source: www.leicestermercury.co.uk
According to court documents, the UK Border Control intercepted several packages between August 2016 and November 2017, which were addressed to three addresses, rented in the name of Mr. Johnson. The packages reportedly contained 20.8 kilos of controlled substances, of which 40% were class A drugs.
Officers of the UK Border Control revealed that the intercepted packages contained 8.1 kilos of ecstasy tablets and powder, Ketamine, a kilo of cocaine, three kilos of horse tranquilizers and eight shipments of cannabis all weighing over a half kilo. The UK Border Control, however, added that an additional 170 kilos of controlled substances successfully made their way to the addresses of Mr. Johnson. The address owned by Mr. Johnson for his dark web drug deliveries were located in Cypress Close, Desborough. He also owned two additional properties in Martins yard and Britannia Walk, all in Market Harborough, where he had already paid rent, utilities and council tax.
Prosecutor Blackburn stated in court that, the former KFC employee became addicted to dark web drug dealing as he continued to expand his deliveries each time. Mr. Johnson reportedly had his packages delivered from Spain, Canada, and several other countries. After his packages had arrived, he would weigh and package them in his attic before distributing them by post to his customers across the UK. The defendant according to court documents spent over £34,000 ($43,000) in parcel postage fees alone, with a legitimate delivery company as well as the Post Office.
The police executed a search warrant on his Northampton Road, Market Harborough house on December 13, 2017, and seized a wide range of controlled substances including LSD, ketamine, heroin, and ecstasy worth up to £7,000 ($9,047). Police officers seized most of the drugs in the attic, together with other drug paraphernalia, packaging and labeling relating to his tea business, which he only used as a front to deal with drugs. He also opened several post office boxes in the name of the tea business, Labrador Tea Company to throw the postal service off his criminal doings. The police also seized £314,358 ($406,307) in Bitcoin in an online cryptocurrency wallet, along with large sums of money is different bank accounts in his name.
The former KFC employee was also caught in the act, by digital media investigators, actively trading with bitcoin on his laptop. The investigators also found several drug orders on numerous dark web marketplaces on his laptop. Paul Wenlock, the director of the Leicestershire Police’s Economic Crime Unit stated that Johnson used the dark web to ran an organized business enterprise, made millions off it in cryptocurrencies and attempted to hide his criminal activities from the authorities. Mr. Wenlock revealed that this is just one of a handful of cases where British nationals have used cryptocurrencies in this way. He added that Johnson may not have been a drug dealer on the streets of Leicester but he knew exactly what it is he was involved and it’s only the right thing that he receives a lengthy sentence. “This arrest is the testament to the knowledge and experience of the digital media investigators who immediately identified what Johnson was doing online and was able to secure the bitcoins,” he said.
Mr. Johnson started his dark web drug dealing in the early stages of 2015 and made over £1,868,946 ($2,416,734) in drug proceeds. He was a business studies graduate, receiving first-class honors and went straight into working with KFC after school. The dark web drug dealer reportedly purchased their Market Harborough house for £175,000 in 2016, a used Range Rover for £20,000 and a Nissan Juke vehicle for £3,316 with a private number plate bearing the initials of the names of his wife. At the Leicester Crown Court, it was revealed that Lia Johnson, Mr. Johnson’s 28-year-old wife drove the two vehicles as the dark web drug dealer did not drive.
Lia Johnson, according to Prosecutor Blackburn, knew of his husband’s dark web dealings but turned a blind eye to it. “The defendant’s wife knew what was going on, maybe not every single detail but she knew,” he said. Mr. Blackburn stated that he put his wife in a very difficult position as none of her offenses would have happened if he (Mr. Johnson) had not done what he did. He also added that, if her wife’s defense, the money laundering doesn’t represent any illegal drug dealing.
Court documents also showed that Lia Johnson told the police she knew nothing about the whole dark web drug operation but only that knew her husband was sending out cannabis to some people. She added that she believed her husband was into the computer parts business as he had once worked in that line of business with some friends. Prosecutor Blackburn, however, claimed she knew of the drug dealings but kept quiet because of the benefits such as driving luxurious vehicles and living in a big house.
Judge Nicholas Dean QC, slammed Mr. Johnson for his dealings and stated that it doesn’t matter if he carried out his criminal activities in the attic or not, he still did it whilst their child was in the house. Judge dean described Johnson as a major importer of controlled substances who conducted his business in a very unusual way in terms of the type of cases that came to his court. He, however, added that Johnson buying a house in Market Harborough for £175,000 was relatively modest spending.
Mr. Johnson pleaded guilty to supplying class A and B drugs as well as acquiring criminal money between February 2015 and December 2017. His significant other, Lia Johnson, also pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property including their £175,000 house. The couple also pleaded guilty to similar counts concerning their cars. Mr. Johnson’s defense attorney, James Varley argued in court that, his client was not part of any drug syndicate but rather a sole trader. He added that Mr. Johnson was a working-class boy who grew up in Yorkshire, studied hard to graduate with first-class honors from university and walked straight into a job at KFC after graduation.
Source: UK News Yahoo
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