Silk Road Vendor Pleads Guilty, License Plate Matched Online Account Name

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

An online drug seller was arrested rather easily after making a number of foolish blunders, including creating an illegal Silk Road account with a title identical to his legal license plate.

Paul Howard was detected by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in 2013 and was unsurprisingly the first user of Silk Road to be arrested because of careless missteps.

Howard owns a black BMW with the license plate “shadh1,” which is the same name of the account he used on the dark web drug market. Howard often posed with his BMW, according to the DeepDotWeb, and his license plate was presumably perceptible in at least some of the photos or merely identified through other means of investigations.

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service seized 12 separate parcels from the post office that were addressed to Howard’s home. The packages included things like DVD cases and cigarette lighters, but within these objects were MDMA (ecstasy), according to the DeepDotWeb.

The authorities continued to intercept the packages and hoarded them to build up an even stronger case against Howard. But somewhat oddly enough, Howard didn’t seem to question why the mail wasn’t arriving and kept ordering the illicit substances, even from the same vendors of Silk Road.

AFP eventually raided his home in Brunswick and discovered 989 grams of marijuana along with several premature cannabis plants. Law enforcement also seized 14.5 grams of cocaine, 50 grams of MDMA, scales, and plastic bags. There were also envelopes addressed to the Netherlands and Canada, with some already sealed and prepared for shipment.

Australian authorities then searched his BMW and found cubes of an “unknown” substance. The cubes contained LSD, a local contact told the DeepDotWeb, but Howard was not charged for possession of that drug since the AFP only tested the substance for cocaine.

After parsing through his communications, police found 148 texts on his cell phone related to the purchasing and purveying of illegal drugs. One message to a potential buyer read “I got 5 grand worth if you want. I sold 200 cubes last week.” Another text said “no cubes left atm [likely to mean at the moment] but some other ‘things’ u might like.”

Howard also searched “Does Australia Post record tracking” and “Silk Road Tor address” in Google’s search engine.

Howard’s amateurism was fairly overt from the start. Right after registering as a vendor on Silk Road, he decided to introduce himself to the rest of the dark web world.

“Hey guys, I’m just starting out here. I’m Aus based and only shipping to Aus as not to roach on anyone’s turf. I’ll be basically doing dutch speed and peruvian charlie to start and branch into more as I get coin back in my pocket,” Howard announced.

“So yeh that’s me story and I’m keen for any tips or just some chat from you guys as I’m still learning.”

This is not the first incident of sloppy illegal drug trafficking over the internet.

A man named David Ryan Burchard is accused of selling $1.4 million in cocaine and was arrested in early August. He submitted a trademark application for the name “CALI CONNECT,” which he purported was for a t-shirt business, but was also the name of his alleged Silk Road vendor account.

Burchard’s password was later discovered to be “asshole209,” which includes the area code of the larger locality in California where Burchard lives.

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