- Ryan Milligan and Ryan McManus took orders on the dark web’s Silk Road
- The site, shut down in 2013 by the FBI, operated like a black market eBay
- Investigators caught them with 40 orders containing Class A and B drugs
- This week they were jailed for a total of 14 years at Belfast Crown Court
Corey Charlton for MailOnline
11:29 EST, 1 May 2015
15:18 EST, 1 May 2015
A pair of crooks have been jailed for a total of 14 years for running an international trafficking business on the depths of the internet and shipping narcotics ‘party packs’.
When investigators swooped on Ryan Milligan and Ryan McManus they confiscated almost 40 orders containing 15 different Class A and B drugs which were due to be shipped from the UK to the rest of the world.
The traffickers took orders for drugs, including MDMA, cocaine and cannabis, on ‘Silk Road’ – an online marketplace on a hidden part of the internet that was shut down by the FBI.
Ryan Milligan (left) and Ryan McManus (right) have been jailed for a total of 14 years for selling drugs on the dark web’s ‘Silk Road’ marketplace
Milligan, 29, and McManus, 31, were jailed on Wednesday after admitting dozens of drug offences.
The pair sold bespoke packages of drugs designed to be taken by revellers at parties, according to a National Crime Agency spokesperson.
Customers from as far as USA, Russia, India, Sweden and Israel emailed the dealers to buy drugs and to also ask for advice.
One asked for ten grams of pure Mephedrone, also known as Meow Meow, and asked if they’d be able to smuggle it to Indonesia – where two Australians have just been executed for drug smuggling.
The dealers – using aliases Sonicdrone and Blackwater86 – received payment using virtual currencies such as Bitcoin or money transfer services.
Analysis of Silk Road when it was shut down by the FBI in September 2013 showed they facilitated 300 bespoke orders in 15 months leading up to July 2013, shortly before their arrest.
The drugs were shipped from suppliers in the USA, Netherlands and China to Northern Ireland to the address of a trusted associate before being shipped worldwide.
The pair sold bespoke packages of drugs (pictured) designed to be taken by revellers at parties, according to the National Crime Agency
A large packet of confiscated drugs found by investigators when they raided the pair’s drug trafficking operation
Pictured are several more packets of drugs confiscated. When investigators swooped they confiscated almost 40 orders containing 15 different Class A and B drugs
Police found 40 different packets containing Class A and B drugs when they raided the premises
Officers from the National Crime Agency raided their home to find amphetamines, ecstasy and LSD-substitute tablets with the face of SpongeBob SquarePants printed on them.
The force’s Operations Manager John Costley said: ‘Drugs destroy communities and anyone who thinks buying and selling them in the virtual world is safer than buying and selling them on the street is very mistaken.
‘The National Crime Agency together with its partners, locally, nationally and internationally, will protect the UK public by pursuing those involved in serious organised crime and will put them before the courts.’
A financial investigation is now under way in an attempt to seize their illicit gains.
The Belfast pair’s courier, Conor Devenney, also pleaded guilty but died before sentencing.
Milligan pleaded guilty to 33 drugs offences and two counts of possession of criminal property and was jailed for seven years at Belfast Crown Court.
McManus was also jailed for seven years for admitting to 37 drugs charges and two of possession of criminal property.
Judge McFarland said: ‘This was a very detailed investigation on a major drug operation which had the potential to inflict major damage on the wider community.’
THE SILK ROAD: A HIDDEN MARKETPLACE FULL OF DRUGS
The Silk Road was a black market operating in what’s known as the ‘dark web’, where users could browse anonymously and securely. Founded in February 2011, it essentially operated as an underground eBay, where users bought and sold drugs, often in large quantities.
Named after the historical network of trade routes that operated between Europe, China and India, it was shut down by the FBI in 2013 with American Ross William Ulbricht arrested and accused of being the site’s founder.
Although famed for its ‘anything goes’ offerings – large amounts of illegal drugs were being listed on the website – it was reported some items and services were banned. This included assassinations and child pornography.
Users of the Silk Road purchased goods using Bitcoins – a form of digital currency that can be traded and used like money online, as well as purchased with real cash. Many websites now use it as a legitimate form of currency.