University of Manchester students 'ran drugs factory from dark web'

Four students ran a "drug dealing factory" from "the dark web" and lived a lavish lifestyle, a court has heard.

The University of Manchester students traded drugs such as ecstasy on the now-closed Silk Road website.

They enjoyed a lifestyle "far above that of typical students" including holidays to Jamaica and the Bahamas, Manchester Crown Court was told.

Basil Assaf, 26, James Roden, 25, Elliott Hyams, 26, and Jaikishen Patel, 26, are being sentenced this week.

They are thought to have earned at least £812,000 from selling large quantities of controlled drugs ecstasy, 2CB, LSD and ketamine between May 2011 and October 2013.

'Fondness for champagne'

The prosecution said Assaf boasted of his fondness for Veuve Clicquot Rose champagne and having enough money to pay for his education and buy a flat. He is believed to have transferred his earnings using the virtual currency bitcoin.

Three of the gang - Assaf, Roden, and Hyams - were arrested on the same date the FBI seized the Silk Road servers and the US Government had seized the online marketplace.

All four admitted various counts of conspiracy to importing, exporting and supplying controlled drugs at earlier hearings.

A fifth defendant, Joshua Morgan, 28, has admitted assisted an offender in his paid role of packaging the drugs.

Day two of the three-day sentencing resumes on Tuesday.

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