Two men have been convicted of attempted murder after purchasing mail bombs on the darkweb to kill an ex-wife. Michael Young Jr. 31, is serving a 50 year sentence for attempting to kill his ex-wife, and also, for murdering his father in law in 2007. Together with Vance Volious Jr. 36, an accomplice, they have been convicted of ordering explosive weapon from the Darknet with the intent to kill.
On February 2017, Michael Young referred Volious to a Wikipedia article that explained in detail how to use an explosive weapon called the F-1. From the information gathered, these two engaged in transactions on the Darkweb alongside the conspirators, of whom one was identified as Tyrell Fears, 18. Packages were sent to him and picked up by Volious for redistribution. Tyrell Fears pleaded guilty to all counts against him. Another partaker of this crime was an individual who was only identified as Minor.
Minor, who had V.M as his initials received the mail bomb on June 6, 2017 according to the report. The name and the address of the ex-wife were both written on the package to have it delivered to her. The postal officers identified the content of the package as a mail bomb and raised a red flag. The main reason to kill off his ex-wife was to clear away all witnesses that could likely stand in his way for previous crimes.
According to information, Young was also in the business of illicit distribution of drugs during his time serving in prison. He managed to obtain a contraband cell phone at the prison, Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia, SC, and used it to manage his online drug sales. With the help of his conspirators, he was able to get drugs purchased online to customers. His major sources of the drugs were a California supplier and the Darkweb. The details of the case were ordered by the court to be kept secret according to a report.
According to the South Carolina Department of Corrections Director, Bryan Stirling, the use of the contraband phone is a great threat to the prisoners and the general public. “These convictions underscore what I have been saying for years—contraband cell phones in the hands of prisoners pose a significant threat to not only other prisoners and corrections staff but to the general public as well.” The use of contraband cell phones have been a concern in Columbia recently as authorities have decided to put a $10,000 fine and 10 years imprisonment on anyone who is caught sneaking in a phone to an inmate.
It is unclear whether the FBI had information about the case before the package was finally sent to the postal office. Authorities did not comment on this, however, it is likely that they hacked into the Darknet account of Young just as they did to arrest Clinton Scott Bass. Undercover investigators hacked into the account of Scott and discovered his attempt to order a mail bomb.
The case was successfully investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The U.S. postal Inspection service, the Joint Terrorism Task Service, The South Carolina Department of Corrections Division of Police Service, State Law Enforcement Division, and other agencies. The special agent in charge of the FBI, Columbia’s division, Alphonso Norris gave credit to these partners for coming together to support the fight against drug trafficking and all kinds of illegal operations. He recognized the commitment of the FBI and all other partners for their contribution of resources and efforts to make the communities a safe place to live.
The U.S. attorney, Berth Drake also recognized the efforts of the law enforcement for their role in this case. As a matter of fact, the case did not only expose the secret operation of Young to kill his ex-wife and traffic illegal drugs, but also brought into the light the secret use of contraband phones by the inmates and its threatening danger. Just recently, the contraband cell phone resulted in a prison riot that led to the death of seven inmates and the injury of several others. For now, Judge J. Michelle Childs is waiting for a pre-sentence report from the United States Probation office to impose a sentence.