Man Indicted After Attempting to Order Radioactive Substances on the Darknet
Late in the month of June, a Charlotte grand jury returned an indictment filed in response to murder-for-hire charges filed by Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Christopher Nasca. As expected, the returned federal indictment charged a North Carolina man for attempting to kill a man he referred to as his “enemy.” Bryant Riyanto Budi, 26, hired a hitman to murder his target, the indictment alleged. Budi had also ordered a radioactive material in an attempt to poison his so-called “enemy.”
DeepDotWeb’s previous coverage of the story detailed the events that led, ultimately, to Budi’s incarceration in the Mecklenburg County jail in Charlotte, North Carolina. His enemy—an unidentified Charlotte man who seemingly leased a building to Budi—lived in Charlotte. Budi lived only 20 minutes outside of Charlotte in the city of Matthews, North Carolina. Certain pieces of information revealed by Special Agent Nasca led this author to the conclusion that Budi had been renting an apartment from the “enemy” in Charlotte. Budi had lived in Matthews at the time of the attempted murders; the Charlotte apartment angle seemed out of character for Budi.
The Criminal Complaint redacted the target’s name, address, and the identity of the radioactive material Budi had attempted to purchase. The Special Agent who filed the complaint did, however, leave the target’s weight in the document. Possibly, in part, to demonstrate that the target matched the profile of the person Budi had planned to kill. After reaching out to a darknet vendor with access to a hitman, Budi explained the scenario. He told the hitman where the target would be living, how much resistance the target could give the hitman, and even information about gas stations the target visited.
Budi, too caught up in everything except for news articles on failed murder-for-hire plots, had no idea he had been speaking—the entire time—to an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent. Not only had the agent played the role of the vendor with the hitman connection, the agent also played the role of the hitman with exhaustive effort. The agent flew to Charlotte from his office in New York. He followed Budi’s very specific instructions that involved detailing the trip down to Charlotte, taking a photo of a phrase provided by Budi for proof that he was real and in Charlotte, and taking a photo of his service weapon outside of an apartment complex owned by Budi’s enemy.
While micromanaging the undercover Homeland Security Agent, Budi simultaneously bothered other darknet vendors in search of a certain radioactive substance. The Special Agent chose not to disclose the name of the radioactive isotope of an element used in the medical field on occasion, despite the inherently fatal consequences of ingesting too much. While playing the role of a hitman, the Homeland Security Investigations agent learned—from an FBI agent—that someone on the same marketplace had attempted to buy a radioactive element. Budi was that someone. And the FBI agent was the “vendor” Budi contacted.
Court documents revealed that Budi very openly described his plans for the element. He wanted the undercover agent to ship him a custom dose of the element capable of killing a man of a certain weight. Budi spent 800 on the substance. Not long after Budi had arrived back in North Carolina from a vacation in California, federal authorities made their move. They arrested Budi for the “use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.”
The returned indictment accuses Budi of “attempted possession of radioactive material with intent to cause death” and the original charge, “use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.” If convicted, Budi faces up to life for the nuclear reactor HLW charge. And minimally 10 years for using a phone or the internet in an attempt to have someone killed.