Manchester

Silk Road 'drug factory' students jailed

Asaaf, Patel, Hyams, Roden Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption The defendants all pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to conspiracy to importing, exporting and supplying controlled drugs

Four students have been jailed after their dark web drugs trafficking operation was exposed by the FBI.

The University of Manchester students traded drugs such as ecstasy on the now-closed Silk Road website.

Ringleader Basil Assaf, 26, was jailed for 15 years three months, Jaikishen Patel, 26, 11 years two months, Elliott Hyams, 26, for 11 years three months and James Roden, 25, for 12 years.

The judge at Manchester Crown Court said they operated a "one-stop shop".

Their activities came to light when the US authorities seized the website's servers in October 2013.

Manchester Crown Court heard when officers from the National Crime Agency raided Assaf and Roden's Manchester flat they discovered "what can only be described as a drug dealing factory".

Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption The students are thought to have earned at least £812,000 from selling large quantities of controlled drugs

The trial heard they enjoyed a lifestyle "far above that of typical students" including holidays to Jamaica and the Bahamas.

They are thought to have earned at least £812,000 from selling large quantities of controlled drugs ecstasy, 2CB, LSD and ketamine between May 2011 and October 2013.

Assaf, of Corringway, Ealing; Hyams, of Barnsbury Street, Islington; Roden, of Half Moon Lane, Herne Hill, and Patel, of Woodford Avenue, Ilford, all pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to conspiracy to importing, exporting and supplying controlled drugs.

A fifth defendant, Joshua Morgan, 28, has admitted assisting an offender in his paid role of packaging the drugs.

He was jailed for seven years and two months.

Sentencing, Judge Michael Leeming told the defendants: "You operated a one-stop shop, cutting out the middle man.

"You all knew the score and the scale of what was going on.

"As intelligent young men you will all each appreciate that that misery is caused and certainly contributed to by people like you."

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