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Byline: HYWEL TREWYN Daily Post Reporter

A DRUG dealer who peddled cannabis and magic mushrooms on the "dark web" has been jailed for two years.

Cei William Owens, 29, was arrested at his home in Aberdyfi, Gwynedd, by the National Crime Agency (NCA) as part of an international sting involving the FBI on the Silk Road 2.0 - a shady internet site on which users sell drugs and guns online. Six other Britons were also arrested in the same operation.

He later pleaded guilty to two charges of supplying or offering to supply class A and B drugs, as well as three counts of possession.

A court heard Owens, now of Aberystwyth, went under the online pseudonym of "Johnny Alpha" and carried out drug deals using the online digital currency Bitcoin as part of his "organised and sophisticated" mail order-style service. As well as advertising "quality hash", he promised free and next day delivery, sending illegal substances via first class registered post.

Following a raid at his home in North Wales last year, detectives found drugs, digital scales and encryption software installed on his computer.

Despite a defence plea to hand out a suspended sentence, Recorder Ian Murphy QC said he had no choice but to impose an immediate prison sentence on Owens.

He said: "Photographic exhibits show that a room in your house had been turned into a distribution centre and you had numerous customer feedback on your dark web profile.

"You even boasted that you would not sell anything that you would not take yourself. However, you did not know and did not care who you were selling to - they may have been children or vulnerable people."

Prosecutor Clare Wilks told Swansea Crown Court a search warrant was executed at comic book fan Owens' home in Aberdyfi on November 6 last year.

Cannabis, MDMA and so-called legal highs with a street value of more than PS1,700 were recovered as well as heat-sealing machines.

She said: "Using the name Johnny Alpha the defendant operated on four dark web sites, where orders were paid using the online unregulated currency Bitcoin. When orders were placed he would then send the drugs through by post."

Owens bragged that his homegrown cannabis was "quality hash". Mrs Wilks added it "was difficult to assess" how much money the defendant made from his drug deals given "Bitcoin's continued fluctuation". Bitcoins can be transferred between online profiles, used to buy legal and illegal items online or cashed out.

Defending barrister Paul Hobson said Owens had an "unorthodox upbringing" where drug taking "was the norm" in his family home.

He also said that Owens's main business had been selling the class B cannabis, and that only 20g of class A magic mushrooms were sold.

Online black market Silk Road was launched in 2011 and led to more than $200m of anonymous online drug sales.

Earlier this year, its creator, Ross Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced to life by a US judge for a raft of charges including distributing drugs through the internet. After the FBI took down the site, a second - Silk Road 2.0 - was launched. That was also shut down by authorities in the US.

NCA area commander Peter Smith said: "The realisation that you can be tracked and identified on the dark web is beginning to sink in for online criminals."

A Proceeds of Crime Act investigation into how much money Owens made during his 11-month operation is to conclude later this year.


Cei Owens sold |drugs on the 'dark web' and sent packages via first class registered post
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Jul 25, 2015
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