A Nottinghamshire man was sentenced to 10 months in prison suspended for two years for darkweb drug trafficking. For years, Stephen Henry-Palmer of Retford, Nottinghamshire, sold thousands of Xanax and Diazepam pills on an undisclosed darkweb marketplace in exchange for bitcoin.
On December 7, 2020, Henry-Palmer appeared before Judge James Sampson in the Nottingham Crown Court for his sentencing hearing. During the hearing, the prosecution led by Jon Fountain explained to the court how the defendant ran his darkweb drug trafficking operation and how law enforcement had finally caught up with the man.
According to the prosecution, investigations against Henry-Palmer began after law enforcement went to his residence in Retford and found a “considerable amount” of Xanax and Diazepam pills. The police then questioned the defendant concerning the discovered pills. During questioning, Henry-Palmer claimed he had purchased the pills for personal use. Investigators found evidence that contradicted this claim such as receipts, packaging material, and emails. Henry-Palmer had used recorded delivery with some of his customers and received an email when the customer received their package.
Law enforcement looked into at least two of Henry-Palmer’s customers with addresses recovered from recorded delivery emails on a seized computer. The first customer told investigators that he had learned about the defendant through an online form. After making initial contact with Henry-Palmer, the customer routinely purchased packages of 100 diazepam pills. The second buyer had a similar story except that he had first learned about Henry-Palmer on a darkweb marketplace instead of a forum. He had also purchased several packages of 100 diazepam pills and paid on Bitcoin.
The prosecution told the court that law enforcement had recovered 21,300 Xanax and diazepam pills during the investigation into the defendant. Evidence indicated that the dealer had originally sourced the drugs locally but quickly had to find new suppliers in India and France to match the increased demand from darkweb market users.
Mr Fountain told the court: “The Crown suggests a degree of sophistication exercised by this defendant; anonymity provided but entirely undone by his own record-keeping. A significant role, street dealing over the internet of Class C drugs.”
At the end of the hearing, Judge Sampson said it was clear the defendant had “profound medical issues both physical and mental” and sentenced him to 10 months in prison suspended for two years.
“What is particularly serious about this is you were effectively dispensing drugs, which are ordinarily controlled and available on a prescription by a doctor,” said Judge Sampson. “What saves you today is your medical position and your genuine ill-health. It will not save you again.”
The investigators have not yet traced the bitcoins received by the defendant; the marketplace used by Henry-Palmer and his customers had shut down before law enforcement had completed their investigation.