Dark web drug dealer used NHS logo and called himself the 'Narcotic Health Service'
A drug dealer who sold a range of illegal substances on the dark web used the NHS logo and dubbed himself the "Narcotic Health Service".
Kurtis Dunphy, from Bristol, was caught selling Class A drugs such as LSD, ecstasy, and oxycodone.
When the FBI took down the underground trading platform he was using, Denphy simply moved his operation to another underground platform and continued.
Swansea Crown Court heard that when Welsh police tracked him down and executed a search warrant at his home, he was logged onto his online selling site and tried to destroy evidence by throwing a glass a water over his laptop keyboard in the hope of causing it to crash.
The attempt failed and the 25-year-old has now been sent to prison for four years.
Kevin Barry, prosecuting, told the court that the online business Dunphy was running carried the widely-recognised NHS logo as its badge along with the strapline: "Narcotic Health Service".
The barrister said that among the substances being offered for sale by Dunphy was the Class A drug oxycodone – an opioid for which there is a "substantial black market" operating in the US and increasingly in Europe and the UK.
In July 2017 law enforcement agencies in America, including the FBI, took down the dark web website that Dunphy had been using to sell drugs and got access to its computer servers which allowed them to examine data on the people who had been buying and in particular selling on the site. Details of British sellers were subsequently passed to the UK's National Crime Agency who passed it on to local forces.
Data recovered by the FBI showed Dunphy had sold more than 7,000 oxycodone tablets before the site was taken down, the court heard.
The barrister said shortly after the site was closed, the defendant set up another dark web trading account, this time on another platform which advertised a range of drugs for sale including oxycodone, LSD, ecstasy, and cannabis along with drugs paraphernalia.
The prosecution said police did not have access to the details of the transactions carried out on the site and had only been able to monitor its activities, but he said it was clear from the customer comments left on the site that drugs were being bought and sold in some of the more than 1,700 transactions observed.
Mr Barry said the police investigation was also able to identify Dunphy as a user a cryptocurrency exchange platform – and found he had used his parents' address in Port Talbot when he registered.
The police executed a search warrant February 2019 at an address in Marlborough Road in the Brynmill area of Swansea where Dunphy was living with his partner.
As officers entered the property, the defendant threw a glass a water over his open laptop computer to try to short it but that attempt failed.
The court also heard that in his subsequent interview, Dunphy said he was on a deferral year from university and had started using the dark web to buy drugs after developing a "heavy drug habit".
Andrew Hill, for Dunphy, said Dunphy began selling illegal items after he had developed a drug habit when his life had ‘gone off the rails’ during his first year at university where he struggled with depression.
Dunphy started using drugs and alcohol, including ketamine, and his life became ‘chaotic’, said the defence barrister.
The barrister said that since his arrest, Dunphy had taken great strides to turn his life around with the help of his family, friends, and partner, was doing good work in the community, and was studying for an MSc in digital marketing at university in Bristol.
Dunphy had previously pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of oxycodone, being concerned in the supply of Etizolam, being concerned in the supply of cannabis, being concerned in the supply of alprazolam, being concerned in the making of an offer to supply LSD, being concerned in the making of an offer to supply MDMA – ecstasy – and possession of cannabis with intent to supply when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.
He has previous convictions for the possession of drugs and for drug-driving.
Recorder Simon Hughes said the offending was so serious only an immediate custodial sentence could be justified. With a one-quarter discount for his guilty pleas, Dunphy was sentenced to a total of four years in prison.
The defendant will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.