Two South Carolina Men Convicted in Darknet Mail Bomb Plot

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Bomb in bag.
They used Bitcoin to order a mail bomb on AlphaBay, a once-prominent darknet market that met its end when it was seized by the authorities last year.

A South Carolina court has convicted Michael Young Jr., age 32, and Vance Volious Jr., 36, for exchanging and delivering combustible materials with the purpose of murdering a person, in addition to having in possession explosives while carrying out other criminal activities.

During the legal proceedings in Volious and Young’s case, evidence was displayed that confirmed these suspects were guilty of the crimes they committed.

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Conspiring to Murder Young’s Ex-Wife

The murder plot took place while Young was an inmate at the Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia, South Carolina.

Young was incarcerated after being convicted of attempted murder of his wife and for killing his father-in-law back in 2007.

He was sentenced to 50 years in prison for the crimes. According to news reports, Young fatally shot Robert Bell, the father of his ex-wife, Shaunna Bell, when he tried to protect his daughter from Young, who was stalking her at that time.

Volious and Young were running a drug trafficking operation when they started conspiring to murder Young’s former wife. They used Bitcoin to order a mail bomb on AlphaBay, a once-prominent darknet market that met its end when it was seized by the authorities last year.

According to the authorities, Young managed to retrieve an illegally trafficked cell phone which was smuggled into the Broad River Correctional Institution.

Young used this cell phone to purchase the bomb, which he mailed to his ex-wife. The bomb was expected to explode immediately after the mail was opened.

Marijuana joints and buds on a stone table.
He also purchased marijuana from a drug supplier in California and traded it on a darknet market.

He also purchased marijuana from a drug supplier in California and traded it on a darknet market.

According to some sources, a carefully planned operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation caught him conducting these activities on the dark web.

Records state that in February 2017, Volious received a link via Facebook Messenger from Young to help him get access to an article on Wikipedia about a Russian bomb called F-1.

Volious, an employee of a pizza joint and an old friend to Young, got involved in the crime when he had to retrieve the purchased drugs from Young’s home for dissemination.

In a Department of Justice press release, U.S. Attorney Beth Drake noted that the case highlights the dangerous problem of contraband cell phones in prisons.

Bryan Stirling, of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, also made a statement that contraband cell phones present a great danger—not only to other inmates in the prison and the SCDOC staff but also to the general public.

Others Involved in Mail Bomb Plot

A supposed co-conspirator linked to Volious and Young was spotted by law enforcement on June 5, 2017, but was only identified as minor, with V.M. as his initials.

When he received the packaged bomb with instructions on how to manage it, he contacted Young who also sent out information to Tyrell Fears (Young’s nephew) and Volious, according to records.

The mail bomb package, which had the ex-wife’s name and addresses tagged to it, was then delivered to a house owned by Volious. He then delivered the tags with Shaunna Bell’s name and address to Fears.

Fears was found guilty because he was involved in getting the tags that Young shipped from Volious’ home in June 2017, and he armed the tags with the mail bomb.

The FBI was tracking V.M., Fears, and Volious at that time. No results have been yielded in attempts to find out how the FBI figured out the bomb plot.

The packaged mail bomb ended up in the post office, which was seized and searched after a warrant was issued. This led to the arraignment of Young, Volious and Fears. No charges against V.M. were available, though.

According to a transcript, Young wanted to kill his wife because she could be made a witness at another trial against him. It was reported last year that details about the case had been kept secret by the judge.

A pre-sentence report is set to be prepared, after which a sentence will be declared by the judge.

The Dark Web As a Tool for Crime

The dark web has been labeled as the secret place where a range of illegal activities are conducted—drug dealers and hackers and even contract killers are found on the dark web.

Man deactivating bomb in mail.
The mail bomb package, which had the ex-wife’s name and addresses tagged to it, was then delivered to a house owned by Volious. He then delivered the tags with Shaunna Bell’s name and address to Fears.

A lot of crime and death has been associated with darknet marketplaces, leading to raids and takedowns facilitated by law enforcement agencies around the world.

The authorities have been very alert to dangerous activities that are related to the dark web, considering the rate of abuse.

Last year, a teenager was arrested for making multiple bomb threats behind the veil of anonymity.

Later in 2017, another teen was convicted for trying to purchase a car bomb on the dark web.

Over the years, people have wondered whether weapons and explosives are really available on darknet platforms, but recent news and undercover investigations have confirmed that they are indeed easy to obtain with a few keyboard clicks and an online payment.

C.M.

C.M.

With the urge to know more about everything around us, I am an enthusiast researcher and writer with keen interest in expanding my knowledge in a bid to be well versed. Through writing, I express and share my feelings, ideas, and thoughts for like minded individuals.
C.M.
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