Final member of multi-million pound dark web drugs gang jailed
Main article content
A man who was part of a criminal gang which sold illegal drugs on the dark web and used the Royal Mail to post them out has been jailed.
Filips Hmelnicenko, aged 31, admitted conspiring to supply Class A and B drugs after detectives at Northamptonshire Police dismantled a multi-million pound operation he and three other men ran from Northampton.
The investigation began when police identified and searched a storage facility in Northampton in June 2019, where they uncovered £2.7million of drugs including cocaine, MDMA, crystal MDMA and amphetamines.
The Force’s Serious and Organised Crime Team went on to link this facility to Hmelnicenko and Vladislavs Cvirkovics, aged 28, who were soon arrested in Northampton.
Examination of their devices revealed they were selling drugs on the dark web, with customers paying in cryptocurrency before the drugs were posted out via Post Offices across the town.
When the pair’s web shop was reactivated while they were imprisoned, the ongoing investigation led to the arrest of Denis Potapenko, aged 28, and then in turn to that of Edgars Pirants, aged 32.
In December, Cvirkovics, Potapenko and Pirants were jailed for a total of more than 34 years after they admitted conspiring to supply Class A and Class B drugs.
The final conclusion to the Northamptonshire Police investigation came earlier this month when Hmelnicenko appeared at Leicester Crown Court for sentencing for his part in running the drugs operation.
Appearing via video link on March 5, Hmelnicenko was jailed six years and nine months for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and three years nine months for conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, to be served concurrently.
Speaking afterwards, Detective Sergeant Keith Morson, of the Serious and Organised Crime Team, said: “The sentencing of Hmelnicenko brings this ground-breaking case to a very successful conclusion. We’re proud to have taken several millions of pounds worth of class A and B drugs off the streets of Northampton.
“In addition, we left no stone unturned in the investigation by identifying the challenging 21st century method of large-scale supply using a technically sophisticated dark web shop and crypto-currency. The investigation saw Northamptonshire Police’s first ever prosecution of dark web drug supply, along with its first seizure of crypto currency.
“Bringing this extremely well-organised commercial enterprise to a close shows that Northamptonshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime, Digital and Cybercrime teams have the skills and determination to fight crime of any size or nature and I am immensely proud of all of those involved in bringing this case to a very successful conclusion.”