Three men, one from Bicester - have been jailed for their part in an international online drug dealing business, after specialist cyber detectives uncovered their operation.
Investigators from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), working closely with international agencies including the FBI in the USA, found that the group sold drugs such as cocaine, MDMA and ketamine through the dark web under the brand ‘Project4’, earning them over £1 million.
The operation, which sold packages around the world as far as Australia, was exposed when detectives were able match DNA of one of those involved to packaging on envelopes containing the drugs.
Buyers would pay for the drugs online with crypto-currency, which would then be transferred into bank accounts and liquidated into cash, allowing the leaders to live lavish lifestyles.
The trio were today (8/8) jailed for a total of 22 years and eleven months, following a hearing at Aylesbury Crown Court, after all three had previously pleaded guilty to offences including conspiracy to supply class A drugs and money laundering.
Those sentenced were:
Colin McCabe, 39, formerly of Candleford Court in Buckingham, who was jailed for 12 years after admitting four charges of conspiracy to supply drugs, including cocaine, ketamine, cannabis and Diazepam. Believed to be the leader of the group, he organised the business and profited the most from the operation.
Robert Price, 36, formerly of Red Kite View in Calvert, Bicester, who was jailed for nine years and nine months after admitting three charges of conspiracy to supply drugs, including MDMA, ketamine, cannabis. Second in command, he ran the day-to-day operation of posting the packages around the world, and was found with £24,000 worth of drugs when arrested at his home.
Toby Woods, 36, of Rowland Way, Aylesbury, who was jailed for 14 months after admitting entering into or being concerned in the acquisition or control of criminal property. Woods’ role was to launder the profit from selling the drugs.
After arresting McCabe and searching his address in Buckingham, detectives located evidence of drug dealing, including packing materials, phones containing addresses of buyers, and a bug detector used to located and disable electronic tracking equipment.
Searching Price’s address, detectives found significant amounts of drugs, including 1.3kg of cannabis resin (street value £13,200), 580g of MDMA (street value £10,800) and various drug dealing paraphernalia such as scales, deal bags and posting equipment.
“Although being run from modest locations in the Home Counties, this was an international drug dealing operation which generated significant sums of money for those involved.
“McCabe was the key player in the organisation and coordinated the buying and selling of the substances and used encryption software and the dark web in an attempt to remain anonymous.
“Unfortunately for McCabe and his accomplices, we have a dedicated team of cyber specialists working tirelessly to identify those looking to utilise the internet for illegal purposes, and we are completely driven to apprehend such criminals and bring them before the courts.”