Darknet News

UK Tanning Salon Operator Wanted 10 kg of Cocaine a Month Shipped to His Business

A would-be cocaine dealer who planned to purchase multiple kilos of the drug from the original AlphaBay darknet market began serving a 32-month jail sentence last Friday, June 30. Wayne Withers, 47, of Blackpool, UK, pled guilty to the charges against him earlier this year which stemmed from AlphaBay orders placed in May and June of 2017.

AlphaBay communications between Withers and the product vendor, who went by the name Machismo, were identified by US federal investigators who then informed UK law enforcement that Withers had attempted to import at least 1 kg of cocaine into the country from Brazil. Withers only ended up receiving a 4-gram test order which was delivered to his tanning business in Blackpool.

Tanning shop owned by Withers to which he wanted his AlphaBay orders delivered.

The messages between Withers and Machismo, which were recovered from AlphaBay servers that were seized in July 2017 as part of Operation Bayonet, chronicle Withers’ plans to purchase 10 kg of cocaine a month from the vendor, with the plans being stopped in their tracks after Machismo reported multiple seizures by customs. After receiving his 4-gram test purchase, of which he complained smelled like soap, Withers placed an order of 1 kg from Machismo in June 2017, which the vendor later claimed was unexpectedly seized on two separate occasions.

In a message dated July 2nd, Withers expressed his dissatisfaction with the vendor’s service, stating, “I’ve paid you $6k. You keep saying they keep seizing your packages but that’s nothing to do with me. You still don’t give me a shipping number so it’s still in your hands. I’m not here to mess around or rob anyone.” AlphaBay itself would be seized by law enforcement less than a week later with the infamous capture of admin Alexadre Cazes. Investigators reported never having found evidence to suggest Withers’ order was actually shipped.

In March 2021, UK police executed a search warrant at Withers’ home in the nearby neighborhood of Sandyfields, Preston, where they seized two encrypted iPhones and three laptops on which the Tor browser had been installed. Withers maintained a clean criminal record in the years following his botched AlphaBay purchase, his lawyer telling the court he had stopped using cocaine over a year before the date of his trial.

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