The leader of a gang of students who sold $1 million worth of drugs via the "dark web" after being inspired by the TV show 'Breaking Bad' has been jailed for 15 years and three months.
Described as the "whiz-kid" and "prime mover" of the operation Basil Assaf, 26, was studying petro-chemical engineering at the University of Manchester.
Joined by Elliott Hyams, 26, James Roden, 25, and Jaikishen Patel, 26, the gang imported, exported and supplied ecstasy, 2CB, LSD and ketamine.
The FBI discovered the ring as part of its investigation and informed the National Crime Agency, who went on to raid Assaf and Roden's flat near the university and discovered a "drug dealing factory".
The men, who are all from London, ran their operation on the Silk Road website, hidden on the dark web, from May 2011 onwards until the FBI brought it down in October 2013 and seized its servers.
The defendants were said to enjoy an above-average student lifestyle taking holidays in Jamaica and the Bahamas, prosecutors told Manchester Crown Court.
Assaf who hid his financial gains in bitcoins was reported telling a friend: "Me and Jamie have accepted we're more than happy to do time for all of this.
"If btc continues going up whilst we're inside there's a chance we'll come out with mills."
However, he claims his boasts were untrue and that he is in debt and there is "no hidden bitcoin money".
Hyams was jailed for 11 years and three months, Roden was imprisoned for 12 years and Patel jailed for 11 years and two months.
Sentencing, Judge Michael Leeming told the defendants: "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."