Breaking Bad was a critical success during its tenure, but it seems some fans are a little too inspired. One man who tried to purchase deadly ricin poison from the Dark Web, after viewing the TV series, has been jailed for eight years.
BBC News reports that software programmer Mohammed Ali, 31, was convicted at the Old Bailey of attempting to possess a chemical weapon between January 10 and February 12. His trial took place in July. The Telegraph also covered the story.
Under the username Weirdos 0000, Ali negotiated a deal with an illegal supplier on the Dark Web, an internet black market, to buy 500 mg of the deadly powder for $500 U.S. — enough to kill 1,400 people.
Unknown to him, the source was an FBI agent, who replaced the batch of ricin with harmless, marked powder and hid five vials inside a toy car. After opening it, and subsequently marking himself — the powder showed up under ultraviolet light — Ali was arrested at his home the following morning.
The Old Bailey heard that Ali was made aware of ricin by watching crime drama, Breaking Bad. In the show, the protagonist, Walter White, attempts to use ricin to poison his former meth dealer.
Analysis showed that Ali began searching the internet for information on poisons such as abrin, ricin, and cyanide in October 2014. He approached the undercover agent privately in January, asking the following.
“Hi, would you be able to make me some ricin and send it to the UK?”
Following this, Ali would discuss the price, dosage, discounts, and the chemical’s shelf life in private chats. Ali even asked how to test the chemical and was promptly instructed to use it on a rodent. Ensuing internet searches showed interest in animal rescue centres, chinchillas, and pocket-sized pets. Four days before receiving his delivery of the chemical, Ali made a purchase of 2.1849 Bitcoins, an online currency.
The judge, Mr. Justice Sanders, confirmed Ali’s actions as a “real risk” and went on to sentence the father-of-two.
“Everyone needs to know that the possession of a chemical weapon is extremely serious and long prison sentences will follow. I am afraid that because of the need for a deterrent sentence, the sentence will appear harsh to the defendant and his family.
“I am satisfied that Mohammed Ali had no intention of disposing of ricin immediately. He intended to keep it. That created a real risk that, at some stage in the future, he might decide to experiment with it or it fall into the wrong hands.”
Ali, who suffers from mild Asperger/autistic traits, stood silently in the dock as the judge sentenced him. A woman in the public gallery, thought to be a family member, cried as the sentence was handed out.
The police operation to arrest Ali was coordinated by Merseyside Police and the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU).
[Image – AMC]