Cheng Le (22), a New York man, was sentenced to 16 years of federal prison for attempting to buy ricin from the dark net. Le was arrested last year for the possession of ricin, a biological toxin that could be used as a weapon. According to federal prosecutors, the vendor the man wanted to buy ricin from was an undercover FBI agent who sent Le fake product. The New Yorker was busted by the law enforcement authorities after he took the package to his apartment from the post office.
In advance to Le’s sentencing, prosecutors wrote that Le “appears to have been motivated principally by greed and to have been prepared to embrace the ‘risk-free’ murder of countless unnamed victims in relentless pursuit of profit.” According to court documents, the man bought ricin to resell the substance for a higher price. Prosecution wanted a sentence between 15 years one month and 17 years 7 months.
Patrick J. Brackley from defense, asked for a lesser sentence of 10 years. He wrote that Le “seems to have fallen victim to our materialist culture, wanting what it offered without having to put in the effort to get it. What he still refuses to understand is that, in his lonely retreat into the realm of the Dark Web, he wasn’t simply exercising an alter ego in online fantasy, but was representing himself as ready to do real world devilry with all the attendant real life consequences.”
Le’s final goal with the toxic substance remains unclear, however, he told the person working for the FBI that a client might want to discuss “details of operations,” including “explaining to them how death would end up looking like under forensic examination. Will it look like some heart attack? Organ failure? etc.” This shows that the man was aware that ricin could be used for ill.