A man from Missouri has pleaded guilty to charges concerning the conspiracy to buy a chemical weapon via a dark web platform using cryptocurrency.
The 45-year-old Jason William Siesser from Columbia pleaded guilty before a federal court on one count of attempting to obtain a chemical weapon and another count of identity theft.
The guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr., meant that the defendant admitted to the accusation that he tried buying a chemical weapon in June 14 and Aug 23, 2018 – including the allegation that his intentions to use the chemical weapon were far from peaceful.
Investigators revealed that Siesser committed identity theft fraud by giving a shipping address belonging to a juvenile without prior authorization from the owner. The stolen identity would then be used to place orders for a dangerous substance in amounts lethal enough to kill several people.
Reportedly, Siesser used the Bitcoin cryptocurrency to pay for the two 10ml units of the chemical weapon on July 4, 2018. It turned out that the dark web vendor failed to meet his end of the bargain at the time, and this prompted the defendant to contact the seller two weeks later with the message “I plan to use it soon after I receive it”.
Toxic Chemical Enough to Kill 300
Later, Siesser is said to have ordered three 10ml units of the lethal substance on August 5, 2018 – which was also paid for in cryptocurrency to the equivalence of $150. Law enforcement noted the potency of the chemical weapon that had a capacity to kill about three hundred people.
The police learnt that a controlled delivery of the package was made to the defendant’s home on August 23, 2018. Siesser confirmed receipt of the shipment by signing for the package and retreating with the inert substance into his residence.
A search warrant executed by authorities on the defendant’s residence confirmed the law enforcement knowledge about the suspect’s illicit activity. Officers encountered the chemical weapon on the shelf of the man’s garage, along with two unopened shipping boxes.
The operation yielded 10g of toxic cadmium arsenide, which kills humans on inhalation or ingestion, about 100g of cadmium metal and 500ml of hydrochloric acid. Importantly, the law enforcement agents seized an invoice that would point to the fact that the products were ordered on March 30, 2018.
Further investigations led the police to notes within the residence that would highlight the defendant’s emotional struggles. Apparently, the Missouri man was experiencing anger, heartache and resentment following a failed romantic relationship – with the writings indicating that Siesser harbored murderous thoughts.
By law, the defendant faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison without parole, with a limit of life imprisonment without parole.
In Related News: Leaked Police Files Highlight Crypto Dark Web’s Role in the Chemical Weapons Trade
The unprecedented devastation surrounding the raging coronavirus pandemic has produced yet another surprising effect – biological terrorism is on the rise according to law enforcement watchdogs.
At the April 2020 opening of this year’s virtual Counter-Terrorism Week, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a warning that a significantly high number of criminal groups had chosen to exploit the COVID-19 crisis in pursuing pathogen-based terror attacks.
In other news, an Interpol manual (titled Investigating Biological and Chemical Terrorism on the Darknet) leaked by Hachtivist group Anonymous highlighted current status of the crypto-enabled dark web chemical and biological weapon trade.
The document sought to train law enforcement agencies on best practices surrounding the infiltration of darknet spaces that operate under the veil of anonymity – it also provided counsel to agents about crypto transactions and how officers can create undercover identities to crack down on dark web crime surrounding the chemical and bioweapon industry.