A duo living in West Cornwall have been arrested after a lengthy operation. The pair allegedly ran their own drug-trafficking business, sourcing narcotics, cocaine, and cannabis through Darknet websites and then selling them on the streets. While their sentence will be short, it’s a threat to darknet users.
Supply And Demand In Cornwall
On September 15, 2023, Jason Pierce (aged 56) and Callum Payne (aged 28), received a sentence of a total of ten years in prison. The pair were investigated and convicted after police found more than £5,000 worth of cannabis found in a motor vehicle belonging to Callum Payne.
In a noteworthy and very surprising turn of events, Law Enforcement found out the pair had been ordering their supply directly from various Darknet Markets for years. Taking to the streets and making a profit from their bulk purchases.
While the duo opened doors to various other illegal items during their operation, they specialised in cocaine and cannabis. The Porthleven police stations confirmed that they used Bitcoin to hide their purchases, and the now Defunct Dark Market as their primary source for drugs.
According to local law enforcement, their suppliers were allegedly based in the Netherlands. While the pair took risks in their operations, it was the Darknet that played a key to their secret operation, allowing them to carry out their initially successful illegal activities without being easily noticed.
How they used the Darknet:
Their operation unfolded like any well-orchestrated multinational criminal venture. The supplier, Jason Pierce, was the brains behind the operation, running his own customer profile on Darknet Markets looking for the best deals. Pierce organized payment for the address and used some fairly decent OpSec to get away with it. After all, their capture wasn’t due to an online sting by law enforcement; this information came after an in-person mistake.
Callum Payne’s role was less complex but a lot more manual work. Tasked with the more dangerous parts of their operation, Payne served as the bridge between digital purchases and physical distribution and delivery. His responsibilities included the collection of parcels containing the illicit substances and their subsequent spreading within various darker corners of West Cornwall. This split of tasks was crucial to making their drug trafficking business run smoothly.
The illegal activities of Pierce and Payne faced a much closer examination when a regular police chase in the beautiful area of Porthleven led to a surprising find. Callum Payne was driving a silver Peugeot 306 containing over £5,000 worth of cannabis. While Payne managed to flee from the scene, he left some valuable information behind. A diverse licence and a bank card. This led to the apprehension of the duo, and prompted a closer examination of their activities and initiated a much more comprehensive police and forensic investigation.
To uncover the complete scope of their crimes, the Serious and Organised Crime Branch in Cornwall were called in to help uncover the operation. While Pierce’s computer had been seized, grabbing any information from it was difficult. On the PC was installed some encrypted software and some additional privacy software.
After some time, Serious and Organised Crime Branch investigators cracked the code and linked the entire operation together. A Bitcoin wallet was found, along with some log-in information for Pierce’s online activities. Additionally, phones seized from both defendants contained messages relating to the supply of drugs.
“This investigation started in 2018, following a pursuit in Porthleven that ended with Callum Payne running from a vehicle which contained a large quantity of cannabis which had been imported from the Netherlands via the dark web. Devon and Cornwall Police would like to stress that such serious drug trafficking offences will be investigated to safeguard the public from drug supply using the internet and mail services.”Detective Inspector Steven Moorcroft, of Devon and Cornwall Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Branch
Ten Years In Prison Combined
The Darknet duo were facing serious charges of conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis. This is why it’s surprising that the Plymouth Crown Court judge gave such a light sentence in comparison to those who had committed similar crimes.
On September 15, 2023, Jason Pierce, received a six years and eight months prison sentence. At the same time, Callum Payne found himself with a somewhat shorter sentence of three years and four months in a correctional facility.
Hey there, I’m a dark web geek who’s been around for the last 8 years. More precisely, I’m livedarknet’s senior content writer who’s been writing about darknet marketplaces, tutorials, and cybersecurity stuff for educational purposes.