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  1. ITV Report

Students inspired by the TV series "Breaking Bad' jailed for drug trafficking plot

Four University of Manchester students have been jailed after their "dark web" drugs trafficking operation was exposed by the FBI.

The activities of Basil Assaf, 26, Elliott Hyams, 26, James Roden, 25, and Jaikishen Patel, 26, came to light when the US authorities seized the servers of the Silk Road website in October 2013.

The gang were said by prosecutors to have been inspired by the TV series Breaking Bad.

Manchester Crown Court was told they enjoyed a lifestyle "far above that of typical students" as a result of their criminality.

Basil Assaf, 26, James Roden, 25, and Jaikishen Patel, 26, Credit: Manchester Evening News.

Ringleader Assaf was jailed for 15 years and three months, Hyams was jailed for 11 years and three months, Roden was imprisoned for 12 years and Patel jailed for 11 years and two months.

The defendants pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to conspiracy to importing, exporting and supplying controlled drugs.

Sentencing, Judge Michael Leeming told the defendants: "The message must go out that those who engage in these sort of activities, whether on the dark web or on more open view, with high levels of profits or some other advantage in mind can expect to receive substantial prison sentences.

"You operated a one-stop shop, cutting out the middle man.

"You all knew the score and the scale of what was going on."

The judge went on: "Drugs are a blight on our society. Misery and degradation is the typical result.

"As intelligent young men you will all each appreciate that that misery is caused and certainly contributed to by people like you."

He noted the drugs involved were dangerous and potentially fatal, and that the death rate from ecstasy was increasing.