As previously reported by DeepDotWeb In December, three Irishmen including Richard Sinclair of Coleraine, Stephen Rodgers of Carrickfergus and Kyle Hall of Belfast were charged with several offenses including money laundering, possession of and intent to supply class A drugs and intent to supply and class A drugs.
This week, Sinclair and Hall both plead guilty to most of the charges presented by the prosecutors, receiving 7 year and 5-year sentences respectively. Sinclair was charged with more serious offenses, after it was discovered that he acquired drugs using bitcoin through the darknet–first charge of illegal possession of drugs–and attempted to sell class A drugs by placing them inside DVD cases for distribution.
One major factor which led to the longest jail sentence of Sinclair was his active operation in the online darknet marketplace and the offline drug trading operation he was conducting with support from Hall.
Hall similarly ran an online drug trading platform in the dark web, distributing drugs illegally. The class A drugs which circulated within Hall’s online marketplace was also supplied to Sinclair, who then packed the drugs into DVD cases and sold it to local buyers in exchange for cash.
When law enforcement and the Irish police raided the places of Sinclair, investigators found bundles of cash and a cash box with over $7,300, which was ultimately used as the evidence to prove Sinclair’s involvement in the offline illicit drug market.
More importantly, police also found footage and history of past drug trades in the computer of Sinclair. Prosecution lawyer Philip Henry stated that investigators found hundreds of cases of drug trade, “displayed on the computer screen was a list showing details of hundreds of drugs transactions.”
In response, Judge Miller QC described the operations of Hall and Sinclair as sophisticated and commercial operation that demonstrated the impact of the dark web in today’s drug trade market. Judge Miller emphasized the large user base of the dark web and online darknet marketplaces, which opens local drug trades to a wider range of consumers
“[The] use of the ‘dark web’ for the purpose of a range of drugs in significant wholesale quantities which were distributed to a large online customer base’,” said Judge Miller.
During the investigation, local law enforcement found various evidences to prove the connection between Hall and Sinclair, including several DVD cases filled with cash addressed to Kyle Hall. Local publications revealed that Hall was sending Sinclair payments pertaining to packages of drugs he received.
Stephen Rodgers, an accomplice of Hall and Sinclair only received 240 hours of community services as a consequence, as the prosecutors and investigators failed to pin down specific crimes or operations he led.
If cash transfers between Hall and SInclair haven’t been raveled and Sinclair did not run offline drug trades in his region, it would have been increasingly difficult for both the prosecutors and law enforcement to form connections between the two criminals. Also, it would have required more resources to track down the flow of money between Sinclair and his clients, which could have potentially shut down the investigation.