Two dealers who set up a £3.7 million dark web drug ring were so inundated with customers they set up an automated “bot” to take orders.
Jehanzeb Amar, 29, and Salahydin Warsame – jailed for a total of 24 years on Wednesday – were part of an organised crime network suppling cocaine, ecstasy and LSD across Britain.
Scotland Yard were tipped off about an online social media site called “LetsWork” advertising Class A drugs in February 2020.
Cocaine could be bought in quantities ranging from one gram to a kilo, a court heard.
The app they used had more than 1,000 subscribers and payments were requested via cryptocurrencies.
Amar, of Staines Road, Hounslow, and Warsame, also 29, of Coventry Road, Birmingham, even set up an automated bot to take the orders without the need for humans.
The app gave their customers regular updates, such as apologizing for supply issues during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pictures of kilo blocks of cocaine with their brand LW were used to showcase their products and establish themselves as trusted online sellers.
In one message, they apologised to customers wanting small amounts due to how much “bulk to bulk” was being sold. It added: “Just listed columbian and boli powder for 55 a g on the bot.”
Last July, Met and West Midlands detectives stopped Warsame driving a VW Caddy van in Birmingham close to a Post Office.
He was found in possession of 61 packages containing Class A drugs addressed to recipients in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A search of the van revealed a sophisticated remote controlled hydraulic hide which, when accessed, contained nearly one-and-a-half kilos of heroin and cocaine.
Officers swooped simultaneous at the safe house on Coventry Road, Birmingham, to find Amar preparing a further 20 drugs packages.
A search revealed a kilo of cocaine, 2,000 LSD tablets, cutting agents, mobile phones, crypto wallets, laptops, a labelling printer, drugs packaging and jiffy bags associated with the supply.
A total of £32,850 in cash and £71,038 in cryptocurrency was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
An analysis identified £3.7m received by LetsWork through their cryptocurrency accounts.
Amar’s personal bank account received another £140,314. A further asset confiscation hearing will be listed in due course.
At Birmingham Crown Court, Amar was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and acquiring criminal property. Warsame received 10-and-a-half years.
Detective Sergeant Damian Hill, from the Met’s Specialist Crime South Command, said: “The Met is committed to tackling organised crime, whether carried out in the conventional way or online.
“I am extremely pleased with the sentences and the disruption of this criminal network.
“Amar and Warsame mistakenly believed that they could act with impunity carrying out this multi-million pound drug enterprise online.
“My team worked closely with the Met’s Economic Crime Team and the Cyber Crime Unit who have the capability to tackle organised crime of this type carried out over the dark web and social media apps.
“Anyone considering ordering illegal drugs online using cryptocurrencies should be aware they are not doing this anonymously and are at risk of prosecution as well as leaving themselves vulnerable to the organized criminal networks whom they have provided their names and home addresses to.”