A fast food worker built up a multi-million pound fortune by selling drugs via the dark web after he became “addicted” to dealing in vast amounts of illegal substances.
Paul Johnson, who worked at KFC after getting a first class degree in business studies, ran his postal drugs business from his attic at home in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
Johnson's 28-year-old wife, Lia, was said to have turned a blind eye to her 32-year-old husband's criminality, which funded the cash purchase of their £175k home and two cars.
The drug payments were made by digital currency, bitcoin – concerning importation and distribution of almost 200 kilos of ecstasy, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances.
At Leicester Crown Court, Judge Nicholas Dean QC described Johnson as "a major importer of drugs”.
Johnson pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property, a quantity of money, between February 2015 and December 2017, as well as supplying class A and B drugs.
Lia Johnson admitted acquiring criminal property, their home, and both defendants admitted similar counts in respect of both cars.
Paul Johnson was jailed for eight years while his wife was given a two year jail sentence, suspended for two years.
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The court heard that in December 2017 officers raided Johnson's attic and seized £7,000 worth of drugs including ecstasy (MDMA) tablets, LSD, heroin and ketamine, as well as drugs paraphernalia.
Digital media investigators accompanied officers on the warrant and found Johnson on his laptop actively trading with cryptocurrency bitcoin.
They also found orders for drugs on his laptop.
The investigation revealed Johnson was trafficking drugs from a number of countries and using three properties he was renting as the delivery addresses and sending out deliveries by post.
Paul Wenlock from the Leicestershire Police's Economic Crime Unit, said: “Johnson used the internet to commit his crimes, he ran an organised business enterprise and traded in cryptocurrency in an attempt to hide his criminal activity from the authorities.
“This is one of a handful of cases nationally where cryptocurrency has been used in this way.
"This result is the testament to the knowledge and experience of the digital media investigators who quickly identified what Johnson was doing online and were able to secure the bitcoins.”
Mr Wenlock added: “He [Johnson] may not have traded drugs on the street but he knew exactly what he was doing and it’s only right that he now faces a lengthy custodial sentence.”