UK Judge Sentences Two Darkweb Drug Importers to Rehab
Two men who had ordered marijuana from a darkweb market vendor avoided incarceration at a recent sentencing hearing in Swindon, England. Both convicted drug importers were told their non-custodial sentences were “last chances” at living a life free of drug use and distribution.
In December 2016, the United Kingdom’s Border Force intercepted a package containing more than $3,000 worth of marijuana. The sender of the marijuana had addressed the package to a 26-year-old living at a Cranmore Avenue address named Shaun Webb. Law enforcement raided Webb and discovered very little evidence to support drug trafficking charges or even a lifestyle of drug use. However, after Webb handed his phone over to the police officers to prove that he had not placed an order for any drugs, the officers found evidence that a second individual had conspired with Webb to have the drugs delivered at Webb’s Cranmore Avenue address.
The second individual, investigators learned, had ordered drugs from the darkweb in the past and was once prior caught. Tyler Wardale, 21, lived with his parents at their Crawley Avenue house when law enforcement in the United States had intercepted a package of almost 200 grams of marijuana addressed to the Crawley Avenue house. United States law enforcement relayed this information to law enforcement in the UK after pulling it out of the international mail stream. Police officers in the UK never arrested the 21-year-old; instead, officers showed up at his parents’ house and gave Wardale a warning about drug importation. This time, after the police had arrested Webb, the police searched Wardale’s room at his parents’ house. They found scales and bags frequently used in drug trafficking operations.
Text messages on Webb’s phone revealed that the duo had met in a pub less than one month before the most recent package seizure. The court heard that at the pub, Wardale had approached Webb about a lucrative business opportunity that he would provide Webb with both cash and “some smoke on the side.” Wardale told Webb that he would pay up to £100 per package delivery. He also explained that he had ordered marijuana numerous times in the past and that receiving drugs was “perfectly safe.
When questioned by police, Wardale said that he only sold marijuana to friends and had never profited from selling drugs. In court, Tulay Hodge, the defense attorney, said that his client had heavily used marijuana since age 13. His parents had alcohol and drug problems, Hodge added. The lawyer agreed that Wardale had not profited from the sale of marijuana. Furthermore, after being arrested, Wardale had stopped using marijuana. However, in his attempt to quit smoking, he ended up drinking heavily and currently suffered from alcoholism.
Although Wardale called Webb a friend, Webb’s defense attorney said that his client regretted ever agreeing to “foolishly” assist Wardale in the darkweb drug importation scheme.
“The reason the court takes the importation of cannabis seriously and the supply of cannabis seriously is, contrary to the belief in some circles, cannabis is not harmless,” Judge Robert Pawson said during the sentencing hearing at Swindon Crown Court. “One of the things it can cause in users is psychosis which is a lifelong illness of mental vulnerability.” The judge then told the court that young users of marijuana are the ones most susceptible to developing psychosis.
Both Webb and Wardale were charged and convicted of the same crimes. Both men pleaded guilty to a single count of evading a prohibition and a single count of being concerned in the supply of marijuana. The judge, at the recent sentencing hearing, ordered that Wardale be incarcerated for 15 months. He then suspended the incarceration for 18 months with the added requirement of a curfew and completion of an alcohol rehabilitation program. The suspension, according to the judge, was Wardale’s “last chance.” Webb, for his relatively minor role in the Wardale’s drug distribution operation, received a six month sentence. The judge suspended the sentence for one year with a curfew for two months and completion of 15 days at a drug rehabilitation facility.