Students who sold drugs to Kiwis using bitcoin caught in dark net bust

Students who sold drugs to Kiwis using bitcoin caught in dark net bust
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Five students in Britain are facing jail time after FBI agents caught them selling ecstasy, ketamine and LSD on the Dark Web to users across the globe - including in New Zealand.

Using bitcoin, a hard-to-trace online currency, large quantities of the drugs were moved across Europe and to New Zealand and Australia - totalling an estimated value of more than NZ$1.14m, UK media reports.

The students ran the underground business while attending Manchester University from 2011-2013.

Ringleader Basil Assaf, 26, was inspired by Walter White, a fictional teacher-turned-drug dealer in TV series Breaking Bad, the Manchester Crown Court heard last week.

The group used the earnings from their operation, run from their shared flat, to fund holidays in Jamaica and the Bahamas and pay off student loans.

Assaf believed his dealing was "morally defensible" because drugs are commonly used at university, his lawyer told the court.

Their sales included more than 240,000 ecstasy tablets on Silk Road, an underground marketplace run on the Dark Web, which is not accessible through a usual browser.

In messages recovered during the FBI investigation, Assaf boasts that "no one could find out how many bitcoins accumulated and are stored elsewhere".

"If [bitcoin] continues going up whilst we're [in jail] there's a chance we'll come out with [millions]."

The bitcoin has not yet been traced, Daily Mail reports.

In 2017 the cryptocurrency rose in value by 1000 percent.

The five students face sentencing on Tuesday (local time)