UK court jails dealers who sold cannabis online
Budmonkey goes up in smoke
Three members of a drug dealing ring who used the internet to sell cannabis to addresses across the UK were sent to prison last week.
The hi-tech dealers plied their illicit trade from a website known as budmonkey that was set up by Sean Jackson, a former heroin addict. Regular customers used the site to order their drugs online. The dealers - the UK's first online drug ring - then shipped the cannabis to their clients using hermetically-sealed bags to hide the smell of the drugs.
The scam was so successful that the gang was netting more than £500,000 a year and Jackson, its inventor, later sold the idea of his computer database as a franchise to other dealers.
The court was told how Jackson and Harris had set up the web site on behalf of an individual from Eastern Europe still being sought by police. The gang used state of the art encryption techniques to scramble the names of their clients and bought at least four houses from the proceeds of their crimes, according to police.
Sean Jackson, 37, of Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead, Mark Harris, 41, of Lockhart Street, London and Dominic Bolongaro, 32, of Fairfax Road, Haringay, London, were sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Friday, 29 April to five years, three-and-a-half years and 18 months respectively, for drug dealing.
Under the new Proceeds of Crime legislation, Jackson was ordered to pay £112,000 within six months.
The judge drew attention to the level of organisation used by the gang: This act was highly organised and sophisticated and it was also prolonged in that it was carried out between November 2002 and December 2003.
"You ruthlessly exploited the world wide web to advertise and promote his regardless of the potential users of that drug."
Lisa Wilkinson and Harris's brother, David, of 35, of Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead and David Harris, 40, from Bryanstone Road, Bournemouth, were both given 200 hours community service after pleading guilty to money laundering charges.
Hertfordshire police has more here. ®
Peter Warren is a freelance journalist specialising in technology, undercover investigations and science issues. You can find out more about him at Future Intelligence.