New Zealand’s law enforcement has arrested a teenage boy who is suspected of buying drugs from the dark web.
The teenager, identified as Elias Smith, was a student at one of the country’s most prestigious high schools.
Smith was jailed for what the investigators say was importing class A drugs into his parents’ home at North Shore. There were different kinds of drugs that the suspect had imported and successfully shipped to his address.
According to the judge who was hearing the case, Judge Russell Collins, it was a big disappointment to the parents who were caught unaware of the case unfolding. The suspect used Bitcoin to order drugs via the dark web from all over the world.
The investigations on Smith’s drug trafficking case started back in October 2015 when the young teenager was in his last year at Albany Senior High School. It was then that the suspect began importing drugs using his parents’ home address.
The police detectives started digging deeper into the case where they intercepted a package mailed from Canada on October 7 of the same year. The search happened in the mail center at Auckland International Airport where 80 tabs of lysergic acid were seized.
The law enforcement agents noted the address to which the package intended to reach and kept a close eye on any other future package to the same address.
After Smith discovered that he might be on the police radar, he requested his friend, Nicholas Baker, for assistance in the business. Smith asked Baker if he could use his family’s address as a destination for the drugs, all for $200 per every successful delivery.
It is not yet clear the number of drug packages that were successfully shipped by Smith to Baker’s home during that time.
On June 2, 2016, a package from Germany containing amphetamine sulfate was intercepted by border customs agents, addressed to Baker’s home.
In October 2016, a package from Poland containing different drugs arrived with Baker’s address. On investigations, the police came to find out that the package had 760 tablets of lysergic acid, plus a sheet of blotter paper laced with fentanyl.
On November 10, law enforcement went ahead to raid Baker’s home. With a search warrant, they checked Baker’s bedroom where they found lysergic acid, along with 2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine (popularly known as DOM).
It came as a big surprise to Baker’s parents who were not aware of the illegal business that their teenager was involving himself with. On the same day, the police officers raided Baker’s home, they also went to Smith’s home for a search on similar suspicions.
Smith was not at home during the raid, but his parents were presented with a search warrant by the detectives, and they gave in for them to conduct their intended activity to their son’s bedroom.
The police found a set of scales, mail originating from Portugal, methamphetamine and lysergic acid. They also found documents that showed Smith had invested money in Bitcoin, along with a cellphone.
They downloaded the content of the phone for further investigations. Some of the material included text messages between Smith and his buyers, where he advised them on different drug lessons and sales prospects.
The police made an immediate arrest to Smith, for the evidence collected was now concrete and ready to be presented to the court. During the arrest, Smith declined to comment on the case.
Drug Use Is Rising in New Zealand
Smith’s case isn’t the only one of its kind among New Zealand youth.
A recent report has shown that teenagers from Auckland are buying drugs from the dark web using Bitcoin.
The report shows that teens are importing the drugs internationally and selling them to their fellow teenagers.
This is representative of a larger drug problem in New Zealand, particularly related to deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl. According to statistics from the Health Quality & Safety Commission, the rates of fentanyl use have more than doubled since 2011.
Additional reports show that opioid prescriptions have risen by 63,000 in 2011 to 77,000 people by 2016—a number which is alarming to the society, hence the prompt government action to mitigate it with minimal casualties.
This is the motivation behind New Zealand law enforcement programs like Operation Tiger, which was launched to counter and narrow down on criminals who are importing illegal drugs and selling locally.
The operation has been a success so far, said Waitemata Police Detective Sergeant Tim Williams in a press release. With a goal to uncover the hidden activities propagated by the dark web, he and his team have seized large volumes of drugs, with a street value of nearly half a million dollars.
Results of the Case: A Light Punishment
Since his arrest, Smith’s lawyer has been pushing against a harsh punishment for Smith. According to her, the drugs he had ordered were not for commercial purposes.
The judge was not ready to buy the lawyer’s concept on the case as he ruled according to the evidence presented. The judge argued that Smith had committed crimes defined by the Parliament as drug dealing.
Finally, the judge sentenced Smith to two years and three months for the crime committed.
The judge ruled that since Smith had no prior convictions in court, he would receive a two-year reduction for his age. He also reduced one year for Smith’s personal circumstance plus one year for his rehabilitation efforts.
He was also given a 25 percent reduction for his guilty plea in the case.
Baker, his friend, was sentenced to eight months in home detention and 100 hours of community work in North Shore.
According to the judge, Baker contributed to Smith’s illegal activities but not in the same level—hence the lighter sentencing.
The duo will remain under police surveillance for the time sentenced until they finish up their terms.