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Darknet Vendor “Imperial Storm Trooper” Arrested

Imperial Storm Trooper Darknet Vendor Arrested
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A UK-based doctor has been sentenced to five years in prison for his involvement in the illegal drug trade on the darknet, using the pseudonym “Imperial Storm Trooper” to sell drugs like ecstasy, cannabis, and counterfeit Xanax. His operations, spanning from July 2016 to August 2017, were eventually uncovered by the West Midlands Police, leading to his arrest and conviction.

Key Insights

  • Shoaib Ahmad, a 41-year-old doctor from Halesowen, was convicted of drug trafficking on the darknet.
  • Ahmad used the alias “Imperial Storm Trooper” to sell drugs such as ecstasy, cannabis, and counterfeit Xanax from July 2016 until August 2017.
  • The West Midlands Police initiated an investigation into Ahmad’s activities in early 2017 after intercepting a drug-containing package.
  • He was associated with Marc Ward, a Portsmouth-based drug dealer and a member of a wider darknet drug trafficking gang.
  • Ahmad was arrested in France in August 2017 with 46kg of ecstasy tablets worth approximately €615,000 (£528,704).
  • He was extradited to the UK in July 2021 and pleaded guilty to 17 offences related to drug possession and intent to supply.
  • Ahmad’s operations generated over £250,000 in revenue.

The Descent into the Dark Web Drug Trade

Darknet Doctor Arrested

Shoaib Ahmad, who is a 41-year-old former resident of Dale Road, Halesowen, was recently convicted at Birmingham Crown Court for possessing and selling drugs such as ecstasy, cannabis, and counterfeit variations of the anxiety-reducing medication Xanax, spanning over 12 months from July 2016 until August 2017.

Ahmad was running his operations under the alias “Imperial Storm Trooper,” with the main goal of making use of the anonymity of the darknet and Bitcoin cryptocurrency to carry out and grow his illegal drug-related activities, spanning from July 2016 to August 2017. 

Growth of the Drug Network

The West Midlands Police started their investigation into Ahmad’s operations early in 2017 after intercepting a package which was containing drugs sent to a rented postbox in Birmingham, which, despite being registered under a pseudonym, ended up being linked to Ahmad’s bank account. This is the first account of Ahmad’s illegal activities. 

Throughout the investigation, there was clear evidence that Ahmad had rented a number of postboxes across the West Midlands under various aliases to facilitate his drug shipments, which also made the case more complicated for the authorities investigating it. 

“To the outside world Shoaib Ahmad was a respected professional and very far from most people’s idea of a drug dealer. Behind the scenes however, within the secretive community operating on Darknet Markets like AlphaBay, he was heavily involved in selling illegal drugs.”

Detective Constable Holly Percival

His dealings were not only limited to the UK; Ahmad was also connected to Marc Ward, a Portsmouth-based drug dealer and member of a drug gang operating on the dark web.

Marc Ward was mentioned as an accomplice of Ahmad, who was part of a wider drug gang that also exploited the dark web marketplace for drug trafficking. These platforms are well-known for allowing users of the marketplace to buy and sell illegal goods and services, making them a challenge for law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Ward was arrested by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit in June 2017. Before his arrest, Ward showed his plan to retire from the dark web’s illegal activities, and then identified Ahmad’s alter ego, the Imperial Storm Trooper, as one of the figures set to take over his drug trade with counterfeit Xanax. 

The Financial Scale of Operations

Ahmad’s operations generated a large amount of revenue. The sum of over £250,000 shows a large amount of drugs being moved through his drug network, given the typical market prices for substances like ecstasy, cannabis, and counterfeit Xanax. 

This high level of income from illegal drug-related operations can show that Ahmad had created a considerable customer base and was effectively distributing these drugs across a wide area.

“As a registered medical practitioner, Ahmad knew well the dangers these drugs posed but he had little regard for others, only for his own profit. He also thought he was beyond our reach, acting under the cloak of anonymity on the darknet, but we are as relentless in our pursuit of those who carry out crimes in cyberspace as we are tackling those who offend on the streets. We have the technical expertise and resource to take on these criminals and we are determined to disrupt the drug trades wherever it takes place. Ahmad’s capture is testament to our resolve.”

Detective Constable Holly Percival

International Dimensions and Legal Consequences

The international side of Ahmad’s drug trafficking came to a head in August 2017, shortly after the arrest of his associate Marc Ward. Ahmad was arrested in France and found with 46kg of ecstasy tablets. This amount of drugs, with a street value of approximately €615,000 (£528,704), shows the growth of his illegal dealings, way more than the financial totals mentioned previously.

The movement across countries, from the UK to France, and potentially to Belgium and the Netherlands as indicated by his travel path, shows the international drug trafficking routes used by individuals engaged in the darknet drug trade.

Impact on Law Enforcement and Legal Systems

The teamwork between French and UK authorities, leading to Ahmad’s extradition and arrest in the UK, just shows the importance of the necessity for cross-border cooperation in addressing such complex darknet vendor operations and international criminal operations.

This arrest led to a six-year prison sentence in France, part of which was served before his extradition to the UK in July 2021.

Upon his return to the UK, Ahmad eventually pleaded guilty to 17 offences related to the possession and intent to supply drugs and controlled substances on June 28. During sentencing, the judge noted that Ahmad’s prison time in France was taken into consideration, which somewhat mitigated his sentence in the UK.

Detective Constable Holly Percival, from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit’s cyber-crime team, put emphasis on the clear split of Ahmad’s life, portraying him as a respected professional publicly while he led a life of undercover crime online. 

Detective Percival stated the challenges and successes in finding criminals and crimes that are committed in the shade of the dark web cyberspace, showing the police’s commitment to bringing to an end the drug trade, regardless of the platform.