According to Sunlive, a Tauranga, New Zealand man pleaded guilty to the importation of a Class B drug via a darknet marketplace. A Tauranga District Court judge convicted the 21-year-old based on the confessions he made to police and remanded him until the bail hearing in February. The Tauranga man, founded by his own confession, now faces a maximum sentencing of a lifetime in prison.
On Thursday, January 19, 2017, Ashley Brian Hillis appeared before Judge Thomas Ingram where he pleaded guilty. According to the Bay of Plenty Times, Hillis heard the statements he previously made to police officers after his arrest in late 2016. Hillis told investigators that he ordered the Class B drug, ecstasy, during a bad period in his life. He admitted that he “made a very foolish decision.” He reiterated that he intended to consume the ecstasy personally; no trafficking or similar charges applied.
Authorities testified that the 21-year-old Tauranga man started ordering ecstasy in August 2016. His first order came from the Netherlands and consisted of 10 grams of MDMA powder. Hillis explained that he doubted the shipment would ever arrive. When an “envelope of powder” arrived at his Welcome Bay home, Hillis consumed all of it, authorities stated.
He then made two more purchases from the same darknet site, the Bay of Plenty Times reported. Sunlive wrote that Hillis bought the ecstasy from “the Silk Road on the darknet,” but no other sources referenced the Silk Road. However, if the Tauranga resident only ordered between August 2016 and September 2016, he never used the original Silk Road. The only active “Silk Road” darknet marketplace on DeepDotWeb’s marketplace list is Silk Road 3. Moreover, about the “Silk Road” branding used by many markets, following the fall of the original; “we still believe that the Silk Road Brand is Dead. This market is not related to original Silk Road in any way. And this will most likely be the last iteration of Silk Road to get listed here, but should not be considered as any worse than any other market.”
After the successful arrival of the first package, police explained, Hillis ordered twice more. He placed the second order towards the end of August 2016. The former suspect purchased ten ecstasy tablets for his second order, police said. Instead of the successful arrival, he hoped for; Customs intercepted the package. Customs officers seized the third (their second) package almost two weeks after the second package unsuccessfully landed.
The second shipment contained a significant quantity of MDMA or ecstasy, police said. Customs officers found 25 grams of powder and additional 50 ecstasy pills. Both packages seized by customs pointed to Ashley Brian Hillis; he ordered the packs under his real name and used his home address. Police subsequently arrested Hillis. He made a confession to officers and expressed his deep regret.
Judge Thomas Ingram convicted Hillis of the importation of ecstasy under the Misuse of Drugs Act—under which the maximum sentence is a lifetime in prison. Judge Ingram scheduled Hillis’s sentencing hearing for February 20, 2017.