A Scottish man who bought a handgun with Bitcoin was jailed for five years last week after courts heard that he “only wanted to see if it could be done”. 48-year-old David Mitchell from Edinburgh purchased a 9mm handgun, magazine, 150 rounds of ammunition, and a suppressor from the United States for about $2,750 on the dark web using Bitcoin, but was rumbled when the newly formed Organized Crime Partnership (OCP) intercepted the package. Mitchell claimed he had no intention of using the handgun, but this didn’t stop Judge Lord Pentland issuing a custodial sentence.
Silk Road Legacy
When the OCP discovered the illegal package they sent a placebo to Mitchell’s office and followed him home with it in his possession. Police officers subsequently stormed the house and found the placebo hidden under a couch, at which point Mitchell was arrested and charged with illegal possession of firearms.
Cryptocurrencies have been used in conjunction with the dark web for years in the purchase of illegal items, most famously drugs via Silk Road which was operated by Ross Ulbricht until his arrest in October 2013. Ulbricht himself was recently transferred to an alternative high-security prison in Tucson as part of the double life sentence plus forty years he received in 2015. An online petition appealing for clemency for Ulbricht has so far garnered over 122,000 signatures.
Dark Web Keeps Racking up Sales
Despite Silk Road having been shut down for many years, dark websites still proliferate and are notoriously hard to detect and close down. In fact, Silk Road was only cracked thanks to parcels being intercepted on their way to recipients, much as in Mitchell’s case. For every gun and bag of drugs that gets intercepted, no one knows how many make their way successfully to their destination, which is why they remain in business.
As long as individuals are determined to both buy and sell illegal goods, these transactions show no sign of slowing down, with or without cryptocurrencies to pay for them.