Five students from the University of Manchester indulged in a luxurious lifestyle funded by selling hard drugs such as ecstasy, LSD and ketamine on the dark web.
The gang had a taste for the ‘high life’, boasting of their fondness for expensive champagne while partying in the Caribbean and Amsterdam before the FBI cracked down on the drugs ring.
When police arrested the gang in 2013, they were able to trace £812,000 worth of sales that flowed through the gang’s Silk Road account in bitcoin. This amounted to roughly 8000 bitcoins, which were worth around £90 each at the time. Today this equates to a staggering amount of money due to bitcoin’s rise.
Police have so far been unable to trace the bitcoins, but one gang member did pay off his student loan and buy an apartment in the city of Manchester.
Basil Assaf (26), the proclaimed ringleader, was sentenced to 15 years and three months in prison, James Roden (25) was sentenced to 12 years, Jaikishen Patel ([[[age?]]]) received 11 years and two months, Elliot Hyams (26) was jailed for 11 years and three months and Joshua Morgan (28) received seven years, all for playing their part in the drugs operation.
From May 2011 to October 2013, the gang sold 16.7 kg of ecstasy worth $750,000 as well as 1.23 kg of 2CB, a psychedelic drug more potent than ecstasy, and 1.46 kg of ketamine.
The gang were caught due to information leaked when the FBI busted drugs marketplace Silk Road in 2013. The British police raided Assaf and Roden’s flat on the same day, finding laptops used to access the accounts on the drugs marketplace alongside thousands of pounds in cash.
The gang compared themselves to Walter White from hit TV series Breaking Bad. The court was told this was a running joke among the five students.