A group of 10 Leeds Beckett University students were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Monday for their roles in importing and selling illegal drugs from abroad.
Liam Reynolds, 21, the group ringleader, was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment for conspiracy to import and supply LSD, cannabis and ecstasy, as well as money laundering.
The others were given suspended prison sentences of between 8 months and 2 years, and 200 hours of unpaid work.
It is believed the drugs ring, organised by Reynolds from his student house on Headingley Mount, used the now defunct Silk Road online black market site to obtain drugs such as MDMA, LSD and cannabis to sell on to fellow students.
The drugs were bought using Bitcoin, a digital currency which allows buyers to remain anonymous, and the students were only brought to the attention of police after they received information the group were involved in drugs.
An investigation then took place, during which a package of cannabis as well as other evidence was uncovered, and the group were charged in May last year.
The group of mainly international business students also included Daniel Bernard, 21, Nicholas O’Brien, 21, Jordan Crowney, 21, Connor Woods, 20, George Cosgrove, 22, Paul Simms, 21, Thomas Cox, 21, Stephen Coleman, 21, and Joseph Wilson, 21.
Reynolds is thought to have used Breaking Bad’s Walter White as inspiration for his activities, after the discovery of text messages making reference to the programme.
At the court sentencing, Judge James Spencer, QC, told the students: “You no doubt went to university with your ambitions very high, and your self assessment very high, and you think you know everything and you think you can do everything without any responsibility.
It may come as a shock to you that the law applies equally to you as everybody else.”
Detective Inspector Jaz Khan, head of Leeds district’s specialist drugs team, said of the case: “This was a very sophisticated and highly organised criminal enterprise that for a sustained period of time imported substantial quantities of controlled drugs into the UK and supplied them in the city’s student community.
They thought that they could frustrate law enforcement by using the internet’s Dark Web to avoid detection but that proved not to be the case.
The use of controlled drugs presents real risks to young people’s wellbeing and to our communities. Here was a group of young men who were exploiting their positions within that student community to supply other students with access to a range of substances that were bought from abroad and could contain anything.
We hope the sentences they have received will serve as a stark reminder to others of the penalties they will face if they choose to involve themselves in the supply of controlled drugs.”
Leeds Beckett’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Strategic Development, stated: The seriousness of the offences committed by these students is reflected in the sentences handed down by the Court and will be reflected in the severity of any sanctions applied through our University’s student disciplinary procedure.”
Photo credit: Yorkshire Evening Post