In September, a Swedish trial concluded wherein the defendant was released from custody due to potential mental illness. A 27-year-old Uppsala PhD student was charged with selling ricin on the deepweb. The hearing would continue once the student passed a psychiatric examination.
Almost a month later on October 18, the District Court announced that the man was free of any mental illness.
According to the the prosecutors, the man was free of any serious mental disorder at the time of the crime. He was in a fit state of mind at the time of the evaluation as well.
Therefore, prosecutors announced, “he is charged with complicity in attempted aggravated extortion, aggravated theft and drug offenses. He is also charged of serious violations of the law on war material, during which the illegal handling of the poison ricin falls.”
The 27-year-old fell on law enforcement’s radar in 2013 when a colleague caught him stealing materials from a lab at his workplace. He worked at the Biomedical Centre of Uppsala University, granting him access to toxic substances. The initial investigation was unspecific in scope. However, the information obtained in the 2013 investigation is pertinent to the ongoing case.
Court documents revealed that some of the items stolen were containers of sodium azide, cyanogen bromide, chloroform, and ricin. According to the prosecutor, the PhD student was charged with theft on 12 individual occasions.
Ricin, however, raised government flags. The substance was a “List 1” chemical weapon.
At a similar time, an unknown number of people threatened Czech authorities with a chemical attack. If the Czech government refused to pay 5,000 BTC, cyanogen bromide, mercury chloride and ricin would be introduced to the water supply.
Court documents revealed that the student was under surveillance at this time for the previous thefts. Ricin stood out here, but so did cyanogen bromide. The doctoral student was spotting mailing a package addressed to the Czech Republic. The package was intercepted and examined; it was addressed to representatives of the Czech Government and contained cyanogen bromide.
At this point in the investigation, documents reveal the FBI had been brought in to assist.
Law enforcement noted the man shipping several packages a week. The FBI informed local authorities that a Nucleus vendor named “Larry Flow” was selling ricin and cyanogen bromide. This vendor was located within Sweden. Based on Nucleus feedback and when the student mailed packages, police had enough evidence to work with.
Law enforcement began undercover chat with the man, via Nucleus messages. With the surveillance equipment installed in 2013, agents watched the man boot into Tails. They were then able to watch the suspect interact with undercover police, via remote cameras.
Court documents note one exchange between the student and other buyers:
Buyer: “I received your test package just fine.”
Larry Flow: “Very happy to hear.”
Buyer: “Will the next shipment pray similiar sized package?”
Larry Flow: “Yes.”
Police then made their own purchases and were able to gather enough evidence to pursue the charges. The student was spotted mailing the package on a camera at the shipping location.
From this point, the man was detained until his September release. Since he was found mentally stable, the insanity plea is out of the question. A new court date has been announced where the sentencing will begin.